Chile hands environmental permit to 600MW solar project

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The project represents more than 50% of Chile’s entire installed solar generating capacity at present. Flickr: Ryan Bjorkquist.

Chile’s Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA) has given environmental approval to a 600MW solar PV project, which requires US$1 billion in investment, project developer Valhalla Energy has confirmed.

The project named Cielos de Tarapacá will use single-axis tracking technology and will be located across 1,650 hectares in Pintados in the Tarapacá Region.

The project will complement the 300MW hydro-electric plant Espejo de Tarapacá south of Iquique, which is another Valhalla development.

The PV project represents more than 50% of Chile’s entire installed solar generating capacity at present of just more than 1GW.

However, the initial environmental permits for solar projects in Chile are easy to obtain, as discussed by Denise Hugo, director of marketing at tracker manufacturer Array Technologies in a recent analysis of Chile’s solar market on PV Tech. After the first approval, it is not so easy to secure the interconnection permit, which is handed out by the grid manager. It is also harder to work out the details of power purchase agreements (PPAs) and land usage.

According to the latest figures from trade association Asociación Gremial de Generadoras de Chile, SEA also approved two other solar projects in February this year including the Planta Fotovoltaica La Esperanza and the Planta Fotovoltaica Marchigue, which both stand at 9MW and require US$18 million investment each.

As of the end of January 2016, Chile’s cumulative installed solar capacity surpassed 1GW, reaching 1,013MW.

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