Sonnedix breaks ground on 171MW PV plant in Chile’s Atacama

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The ground-breaking of 171MW Atacama Solar sees Sonnedix hit a 500MW-plus portfolio of solar across various development stages (Credit: Sonnedix)

Sonnedix has marked the launch of construction works for a large-scale solar installation in Chile’s Atacama desert, with a view to power up the plant late next year.

Regional authorities and executives from the IPP including CEO Axel Thiemann recently attended the ground-breaking ceremony of 171MW Atacama Solar, in the Pica district.

Construction, Sonnedix explained, is set to directly create 400 jobs and see the plant become commercially active by December 2020.

The project will require overall investments of US$180 million. At US$99 million, over half will come in the form of a non-recourse project finance package, closed by Sonnedix in May.

Financiers contributing towards the US$99 million include Latin American development bank CAF, as well as Banco BICE and Banco Security.

Once up and running, the 470GWh-a-year Atacama Solar is set to represent 200,000 metric tonnes in annual CO2 savings, according to Sonnedix.

The IPP, which entered the Chilean PV market in 2015, has since grown to manage a 500MW-plus portfolio of utility-scale projects either under construction, development or in operation.

The firm is active in part through a stake it owns in Cox Energy Chile and bought last year a 138MW project near capital Santiago, with plans to initiate construction by early 2020.

Also present in France, Italy, Spain, the UK, South Africa, Puerto Rico and Japan, Sonnedix is not alone in its efforts to deploy utility-scale PV in the Atacama Desert, a global irradiation hotspot.

The IPP’s projects are to sit alongside Solarpack’s 123MW la Granja – under construction since late May – and a major solar-plus-storage duo Valhalla will build with support from development financiers.

The prospects and challenges of Latin American solar and storage will take centre stage at Solar Media's Energy Storage Latin America, to be held in Colombia on 28-29 April 2020.

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