Chile approves 265MW of PV projects

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Italian energy utility Enel has been approved for two solar PV projects totalling 265MW in the Antofagasta region of Chile.

Enel, which has faced three years of stagnant growth in Italy, will construct, install and operate the two plants through its subsidiary Enel Latin América, according to the Chilean environmental assessment group Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental.

The first project, with an expected annual output of 319GWh, will be located in the municipality of Maria Elena, Tocopilla Province covering 367 hectares. With a capacity of 143MW, the plant will use 477,708 modules and reduce CO2 emissions by 130,484 tonnes per year. Funding for the project is expected to amount to US$654,694.

The second plant will have 122MW of capacity with an annual output of 299GWh in the Commune of Antofagasta located on 357.7 hectares of land. The project will utilise 408,114 modules and require funding of around US$565,330.

However, European companies like Enel reeling from the financial crisis in Europe and looking to free themselves from debt by investing in emerging countries is not a new phenomenon, said Bloomberg.

CEO Enel Fulvio Conti said: “Chile…will need another 14GW in the next 10 years to promote further development of their mining industry in the North and industrial development in the Centre and South.”

Conti has vowed to bring down Enel’s net debt to €37 billion by 2014 from €42.9 billion.

“He’s [Conti] in a bind and left with few weapons to fight back,” Stefano Girola, a fund manager at Banca Albertini Syz & Co. in Milan told Bloomberg. “Emerging markets offer hope of profits but need investments to produce. Where can he get that money if core markets languish?”

Companies like JinkoSolar and Solarpack have also headed to Latin America to turn their fortunes around. Furthermore, in April, the Inter-American Development Bank approved a loan package worth US$41.4 million to fund the development of three PV plants in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

Enel Green Power is already present in Chile since 2001 where it operates 2 hydro plants for a total installed capacity of 90 MW and has several geothermal concessions under exploration, in partnership with ENAP (Empresa Nacional del Petroleo); one of them, the estimated 40 MW Quebrada del Zoquete project located in Region II of Antofagasta

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