Colbún unveils plans for 788MWp PV complex in northern Atacama

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The Atacama Desert. Image credit: Danielle Perreira

Colbún has filed an application to develop a 788MWp solar project in Chile's Atacama Desert, adding to a growing cluster of solar systems in the global irradiation hotspot.

Last week, the Chilean power company submitted an environmental impact statement for the US$788 million Inti Pacha PV project, planned in the Antofagasta Region.

The plant described in the documents would cover 1,289 hectares, with panels capable of generating 719MW of nominal power split between three distinct areas.

Colbún's plans come one month after Spanish developer Ibereolica submitted an application for a 500MW project in the same vicinity – the commune of María Elena, found in Tocopilla province in northern Atacama.

María Elena commune is home to the driest place on Earth, according to research published in journal Environmental Microbiology Reports in March 2015.

Both Colbún's and Ibereolica's projects are still being considered, the Chilean environmental service database (SEIA) shows.

The ventures join a growing fleet of utility-scale PV plants in the Atacama desert.

Installed renewable capacity in Chile grew from 5.08GW in 2018 to 5.9GW in 2019, almost doubling the 3.2GW recorded in 2016, according to green energy body ACERA.

Clean energy covered 19.4% of the Latin American country's electricity generation last year, bringing the 20%-by-2025 government target within easy reach in 2020.

Colbún owns 941 kilometres of transmission lines and 25 hydro, coal and renewable power plants in Chile and Peru.

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media's Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

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