The Bolivian government has announced that US$11 million will be invested to build the country’s first megawatt-scale solar power station.
The solar park, which will have a generation capacity of between four and five megawatts, will be built in the Department of Pando, on the border with neighbouring Brazil.
The new installation will be built with the aim of reducing diesel consumption in the department. Electricity from the plant will be supplied to the region’s capital, Cobija, and the Pando municipalities of Porvenir, Bella Flor, Puerto Rico and Filadelfia.
Senior Bolivian minister Juan Ramón Quintana, who holds the third highest ranking office in the Bolivian government after president Evo Morales, and vice president Álvaro García Linera, claimed in a statement to local press that the PV plant would help ensure the continuity of electricity supply to the areas it will serve.
The Department of Pando currently has electricity coverage of around 65%. The new large scale PV plant will contribute to bringing the region in line with the rest of Bolivia, which has electricity coverage of around 80%.
Quintana said that the plant is expected to come online in August this year, or September at the latest. However, diesel generation will continue to be used in the area alongside solar power, and Quintana noted that a similar solar-diesel dual energy production model is likely to be installed in other Bolivian municipalities in future.
According to Quinatana, the plant will be built as part of a three-phase programme to boost the Pando region; the building of the large-scale plant will be followed by the construction of another along similar lines, with the third and final phase to consist of fitting solar panels to residences in rural and isolated areas.
A significant proportion of US$11 million funding for the plant will come from the nation of Denmark as part of an ongoing co-operation agreement between the two countries, which encompasses areas including green energy and climate change action, sustainable development and the promotion of human and civil rights.
Around 60% of the funding will come from Denmark, with Bolivia funding the remaining 40%, a decision that Quintana said was made directly by Evo Morales, based on his assessment of the needs of the Pando Department.
Other South American countries including Chile, Peru and Ecuador have stepped up their commitment to PV generation in recent months, with large scale projects approved or constructed in each country.