US PV company SunPower is to build Project Salvador, an unsubsidised 70MWp PV power plant in the Atacama Desert region of Chile.
Independent Power Producer Etrion will own 70% of the plant, SunPower's majority shareholder, Total, will own 20% and Spanish renewable energy firm Solventus Energias Renovables will own 10%.
Electricity from the plant will be sold on the spot market, with a statement from the companies claiming that Project Salvador would be the largest merchant solar power station in the world.
Producing approximately 200GWh of energy per year, the plant will produce enough electricity for 60,000 people. SunPower’s Oasis Power Blocks fully integrated system mounted with Sunpower solar panels and single-axis trackers will be used. Electricity sold on the spot market will be delivered to the Sistema Interconectado Central with the ability to acquire future power purchase agreements (PPA).
SunPower, which is 66% owned by Total, will have a long-term fixed price operation and maintenance agreement with Project Salvador. Sunpower announced that the company returned to profit in the second quarter of this year, with share prices quadrupling during the first two quarters of 2013.
The project will cost around US$200 million. Of this figure, 70% will be financed by US government finance institution Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), with US dollar-denominated non-recourse project debt over 19.5 years. OPIC have been involved in funding several PV projects in the Americas. The remaining 30% will be funded by Total, Etrion and Solventus at levels corresponding to their respective ownership holdings.
Financial close is expected in the fourth quarter of 2013. Construction is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2013, to be made operational by the first quarter of 2015. It will be built on 133 hectares of land leased through a long-term concession from the Chilean government.
As reported on PV-Tech yesterday, at the end of August Chile had 127MW of PV projects in development, most of which are located in the Atacama Desert region.