The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a loan package worth US$41.4 million to fund the development of three PV plants in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
The loan — which consists of US$20.7 million from IDB’s ordinary capital and US$20.7 million from the Canadian Climate Fund — will be used to build, operate and maintain the Pozo Almonte and Calama PV project. The estimated total cost of the project is US$82.7 million.
The project consists of three PV plants — known as Pozo Almonte 2, Pozo Almonte 3 and Calama Solar 3 — which have a combined capacity of 25.5MW. When it comes online in late 2013, it will represent Chile’s largest solar PV project.
The 7.5MW Pozo Almonte 2 plant will be constructed on around 56 hectares of desert land and house approximately 27,000 PV modules.
The 16MW Pozo Almonte 3 plant will be situated on 126 hectares of desert land and be equipped with 57,000 PV modules.
Meanwhile, the 1MW Calama Solar 3 plant will be built on 6.3 hectares of land and consist of 4,420 PV modules.
Solarpack Chile will be responsible for providing EPC services. It will also provide operational, maintenance and asset management services.
The plants will be grid connected and provide power for the country’s Collahuasi and Codelco mining companies.
“This is one of the first large-scale solar energy projects in the region,” said Jean-Marc Aboussouan, chief of the infrastructure division of the IDB’s Structured and Corporate Finance Department, the bank unit responsible for financing large-scale private sector projects.”This project has a lot of upside — it helps reduce the country’s carbon footprint and is in line with the priorities of both Chile and the Bank, as well as with the objectives of the Canadian Climate Fund.”
The solar project will help to further diversify Chile’s energy mix and replace the use of fossil fuels for powering the country’s mining industry, which consumes 18% of the country’s electricity.
Furthermore, it supports Chile’s National Energy Strategy, which aims to more than double the contribution of unconventional renewable energy to the country’s energy matrix in the next 10 years.