A Chilean developer is planning to construct a 205MW capacity PV plant which will require an investment of US$410 million, in a mountainous area near the capital, Santiago.

According to documents filed with the Latin American country’s environmental assessment service (Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental, SEIA), developer Eco Santiago wants to build the vast El Parque Solar Cordillera plant over three years, installing just under 70MW of generation capacity in each year.

The plant will be built in the Lo Barnechea municipality of the Santiago Metropolitan region, on a 614 hectare site and will utilise 661,290 solar panels, with electricity transmitted to the national grid network, the Sistema Interconectado Central. There will be some infrastructure work required, with a substation to be built for transmission of excess energy although most of the project’s power will be sent through an existing 220kV line.

Pending approval, construction is slated to begin in September. In the first year, the plan is to install 69MW and then to add 68MW in each of the following two years – although as is customary, work will cease over the winter months from June until August every year. El Parque Solar Cordillera, the developer hopes, will last at least as long as the expected 25-year lifespan of the PV panels and then extended further, presuming the technology will be available to do so by then, the SEIA document said.

Chile, with high solar irradiance in many areas, high electricity prices and national target for renewables of 45% by 2025, is one the emerging markets for solar that has been long talked about and now seems to be taking off. The country has already seen large-scale unsubsidised 'merchant' PV plant projects get underway and a growing amount of energy storage, especially in off-grid or remote applications such as diesel genset replacement.

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