Update: Sky Solar to invest US$900 million into Chilean market

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Chinese company Sky Solar will be a conduit to help form a strategic partnership for bilateral free trade between China and Chile. CEO Amy Zhang recently attended a banquet hosted by Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in the capital, Santiago, an event also attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his entourage.

Representatives from the Chinese Embassy and Trade Commission in Chile, ProChile, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and key representatives from Chilean financial firms and institutions subsequently attended a signing ceremony. Amy Zhang, Guo Mingshe, planning director for China Development Bank and Christian Brinck, CEO of Sigdo Koppers represented the three parties involved in bringing grid parity to Chile. The parties signed a cooperation framework agreement for the investment in and construction of 300MW of solar photovoltaic power plant projects in Chile with a total investment of US$900 million.

Chilean installer Sigdo Koppers and Sky Solar plan to develop the 300MW pipeline of PV projects over a number of stages. Sky Solar expects to gradually break ground this year starting with a 2MW pilot project followed by an 18MW ground-mounted project. The remaining projects are expected to be at least 150MW and will be carried out over the next 18 months.

Sky Solar’s involvement in the Chilean market has been financially supported by the China Development Bank, a Chinese government owned financial institution which enjoys a sovereign grade credit rating and which plays a pivotal role in helping finance and support infrastructure and construction of large-scale projects both in China and overseas.

Zhang told PV-Tech at Intersolar EU last month, “We carry out development, investment, engineering management and IPP, including operations maintenance and asset management.

“There are three key types of talent in our organization: we have commercial development with a background of grid, solar and utility. The second type is represented by our engineers and the third type by our financial specialists.”

Zhang stated that having been founded in Europe by chairman Su Weili, then diversifying to Asia and North America, Chile was a logical next step. “Chile has a big milestone to achieve for solar, which is grid-parity especially in the northern part of the country: we are looking at a large area of land, which is rocky and doing nothing. There are a lot of mining companies and heavy industries in the region – you can sign PPAs directly with them. Chile also has sufficient levels of sun irradiation.

“Chile is one of the cleanest countries in the entire Latin American region with the lowest corruption and it is a beautiful country with a lot of German colour and culture as well.”

CEO Zhang continued, “The attraction is grid-parity and great demand in the north because there is nothing else. They have hydro in the southern part, a heavy industry with a big power supply gap. They rely on coal and importing natural gas to generate power in the north, where there is sufficient land, very clear air and low temperatures – it is different to the Middle East. There you would need to deal with 65 degrees Celsius in the summer which requires special modules, especially with silicon which suffers from huge degradation in year one, but there [Chile], 23 degrees Celsius is the highest temperature you have in summer.”


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