Generadora Metropolitana begins commercial operation at 480MW Chile PV plant

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The CEME1 project in Chile is the country’s largest solar project by capacity. Image: JA Solar

The 480MW CEME1 PV project in Chile has started commercial operation, and is the country’s largest solar project by capacity.

Developer Generadora Metropolitana, which is owned by French utility EDF and Chilean independent power producer (IPP) AME, started the commissioning work in March, after construction work began in 2022.

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Solar panels for the project were provided by Chinese module supplier JA Solar, which worked with the PowerChina Huadong Engineering Corporation, a Chinese construction firm, to complete the installations.

“We are proud to contribute to the local energy transition, providing clean energy to hundreds of thousands of households and significantly reducing carbon emissions,” said Aiqing Yang, executive president of JA Solar. “We look forward to continuing our support for local sustainable development, addressing environmental challenges and fostering a greener and more resilient future for communities in Chile and beyond.”

While JA Solar did not specify which of its modules are in use at the project, the company has already supplied modules to a number of other projects around the world this year, including Uzbekistan and Pakistan. JA Solar supplied n-type modules to all of these projects, and last year, regional sales director Alastair Mounsey, told PV Tech that the company had “put [its] stall out for tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) as the major technology for the next 18, 24 months or so.”

TOPCon modules have become increasingly commonplace in the solar sector due to their higher conversion efficiency figures than earlier passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) modules, which is of note for a high-potential solar sector, such as Chile’s.

According to Acesol, the Chilean PV association, Chile’s cumulative installed capacity reached 8.5GW by the end of 2023, but considering that the high solar irradiance levels means projects in Chile could produce up to 35% more electricity than projects in other countries, continuing to expand both the scope and efficiency of the Chilean solar sector could make a significant impact on the global solar industry.

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