First Solar set to start work on Chile mega-project

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US developer First Solar has said it is poised to begin work on the 141MW Luz del Norte PV power plant in Chile after finalising an investment package.

As reported by PV Tech earlier this month, the company had already received approval for a US$230 million loan from the US development finance body OPIC. Now with a further US$60 million from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) also agreed, the thin-film manufacturer and project developer said it would be able to begin construction planning at the site.

Luz del Norte will be located in the Atacama Desert, near the city of Copiapo, and will eventually supply power into the Chilean Central Interconnected System.

“The Latin American region has a growing need for innovative and efficient energy solutions right now,” said Tim Rebhorn, senior vice president, Americas for First Solar. “This investment support from OPIC and IFC is instrumental in bringing the project in Chile to life.”

Upon completion the Luz del Norte project will become the largest PV project in Latin America, though with the number of increasingly large merchant solar projects now being proposed and built in Chile, that could be an accolade it holds only temporarily.

First Solar’s US compatriot, SunEdison, has already established itself as a leader in Chile, having completed the 100MW Amanecer project earlier this year and with several other large utility-scale projects in the works.

First Solar, which is known for building mega-scale utility PV plants, said it also had a large pipeline for the region.

Chile is aiming to source 20% of its power from renewable sources by 2025.

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