Chile will lead Latin America in renewable energy, says president

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The president of the Republic of Chile, Michelle Bachelet said the country will aim to become a leader in renewable energy. 

Speaking during a ceremony for First Solar’s 141MW Luz del Norte Solar Power Plant in the Atacama Desert, Bachelet said: “Chile is in a position to be a leader in renewable energy in the Southern Cone, and in the Atacama region we are doing so.”

The US thin-film company First Solar project follows in line with the 16 other solar projects approved by the Chilean government last year in an effort to have 20% of the country’s energy produced by non-conventional renewable energies by 2025.

“We are working hard to address Chile's energy deficit. Projects such as this show that Chile is progressing towards being a clean-energy producing country,” said Bachelet. “This year alone, we are incorporating more than 1000MW of new energy to our system through different non-conventional renewable energies.”

The president was joined at the ceremony by the president of the Chilean senate, Isabel Allende, and minister of energy, Máximo Pacheco.

True to its name, which translated means ‘Northern Light”, Luz del Norte is on track to become the largest solar plant in Latin America, located 58km north of the city of Copiapó.

“Northern Chile is one of the places with the highest solar radiation in the world, and therefore is the place to develop alternative renewable energy projects such as First Solar's,” said Pacheco.

The project, heavily funded by loans that total US$290 million from US’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, will be the biggest solar power facility in the world to sell electricity on an open contract basis. The solar farm will be comprised of 1.7 million of First Solar's photovoltaic thin-film modules and is expected to be completed by December 2015.

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