Etrion’s latest approved Chile project could also be a ‘merchant’ plant

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Swiss independent power producer Etrion Corp looks set to build a 25.9MW PV plant project in Chile, the latest to be planned for the Antofagasta region, after authorities gave the project their approval.

Following the news yesterday that the Chilean environmental assessment service (Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental, SEIA), has just received an application for a 205MW, US$410 million PV power station from developer Eco Santiago, the latest plant adds to the wave of recent project and policy announcements from Chile’s emerging PV industry.  

Etrion completed and connected Salvador, a 70MW unsubsidised PV plant in Chile’s southern Atacama Desert, thought to be the largest merchant solar plant in the world to date, in November. So-called merchant PV plants sell their electricity at spot market prices rather than relying on feed-in tariffs (FiTs) or other support schemes to make them viable. Etrion has now said that it intends to sign a power purchase agreement for the project this quarter. 

The latest project is less ambitious than the Atacama Desert plant, sitting in a more northern area of Chile which enjoys less solar irradiance than its much bigger counterpart. However electricity from the newly approved Antofagasta plant, Solar Las Luces, could also be sold on the spot market, at least initially, according to Etrion.

SunPower, majority owned by fossil fuel company Total, performed EPC services on the Las Luces project. Total has already worked with Etrion in Chile, with the company also holding a 20% stake in the 70MW Salvador plant. Power generated by the 24MW capacity, 25.92MWp Las Luces plant’s 86,400 solar panels will go to the country’s central grid, Sistema Interconectado Central.  

Etrion last week gave an update on its pipelines in Chile and in Japan, claiming that the company holds 34MW of projects currently under construction and around 138MW of plants in development in Japan and 99MW of projects in development in Chile, in addition to the completed Salvador project.

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