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Clean Power The largest solar PV plant in Latin America has come online in the middle of Chile's Atacama Desert Business Green

Published on June 9th, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan

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Chile Solar Power Plant Is Now Latin America’s Largest

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June 9th, 2014 by  

Chile Solar Power PlantThe giant Atacama Desert cradling solar panels is a beautiful image. Find the middle of Chile’s Atacama Desert and take a look — the largest solar PV plant in Latin America has come online. SunEdison has established the 100MW Amanecer solar power plant in this vast desert of Chili. The plant is projected to produce 270GWh of electricity per year. This means 125,000 homes will be able to count on solar energy.

José Pérez – SunEdison’s president for Europe, Africa, and Latin America– noted that Chile was becoming an important market for the company. “This plant demonstrates that photovoltaic solar energy is an ideal way of diversifying the energy matrix in Chile, reducing costs and contributing towards meeting the demand for clean and sustainable energy,” he added. “The 150MW+ interconnected by SunEdison in Chile is the starting point of our firm commitment to the future of energy consumption and the development of the energy industry in this country.”

Will Nichols for Business Green continues:

CAP Group, an iron and steel producer, has signed an offtake agreement for the power from the facility and says it should now meet 15 per cent of its energy demand using solar power, saving it 71 million litres of diesel a year. The plant is located 37 kilometres from Copiapó, a rich silver and copper mining district. More than 310,000 modules have been installed across the 280 hectare desert site, which is among the driest areas on Earth.

According to CAP, Amanecer will meet 10 per cent of the renewable energy generation capacity goal established by the Chilean government earlier this year.

As the upward spiral of solar and PV meets the demand for electricity in Latin America, Latin America is jumping into the new energy era. It is a hot solar market. Last year, what was then the largest ‘private’ solar project in Latin America was completed in Mexico. The solar power replaced an awful coal plant and was a good representation of the transition into renewable solutions from dirty energy. Not long after, solar panels were put on to roofs of 120 of Sorriana’s stores in Mexico. In this case above, the solar power projects were even competitive unsubsidized in any way and without putting a price on the pollution from the coal plants.

Another significant change in 2013 for Latin America was the launch of a Trees, Water and People subsidiary, focused on bringing more solar power to Latin America. The subsidiary, Luciérnaga, “distributes small (<15W) solar lighting technologies that afford-ably meet lighting and device charging needs for energy poor populations.”

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  • jburt56

    Now build 100x that.

  • tibi stibi

    ”…established the 100MW Amanecer solar power plant in this vast desert of
    Chili. The plant is projected to produce 270GWh of electricity per year…”

    so 1MW gives 2700 MWh!
    on my roof i get for 1kW about 850kWh (Holland)

    so in chilli the energy produced is about 3 times more per installed watt !!

    • Omega Centauri

      Near this area is the highest insolation on the planet.

      • jeffhre

        Higher elevation may give cooler more efficient temps – well I’m off to Googling…1282 feet/391m.

        Despite its low latitude, summer temperatures average only about 65 °F (18 °C), and, though heavy fogs are common, the desert is one of the driest regions in the world. Some areas receive heavy rain only two to four times a century.
        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atacama%20desert

    • Bob_Wallace

      I looked up some numbers on the Solar Handbook site – panels pointed S/N at the optimal angle for that location.

      http://www.solarelectricityhandbook.com/solar-irradiance.html

      Haarlem, Netherlands – avg 3.40 kWh/m2/day

      Capiopa, Chile = avg 4.68 kWh/m2/day

      Where are you in the Netherlands? That’s not a 3x difference.

      Seasonal tracking?

      • Ronald Brakels

        For a 100 MW facility to generate 270GWh in a year it would need to operate at about 31% capacity. Even in the sunniest parts of Chile that get around 6 hours of direct sunlight a day for a fixed panel, tracking PV would be required to get that high a capacity factor. The panels in the article picture certainly look like trackers.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Located in the town near the city of Copiapo, Atacama Region, the project covers an area of approximately 215 hectares and will feature more than 300,000 SunEdison Silvantis™ photovoltaic solar modules mounted on SunEdison AP90 single-axis solar trackers. Once fully completed, it is expected to be the largest solar photovoltaic plant in Latin America. In its first year of operation, the system is expected to generate 270GWh per year of clean energy, avoiding the emission of over 135,000 tons of CO2, equivalent to removing more than 30,000 cars from the streets.”

          http://ifcext.ifc.org/ifcext/pressroom/IFCPressRoom.nsf/0/9513599CFC2EB63185257BE200572A72

          • Ronald Brakels

            That explains it.

          • tibi stibi

            thanks that explains the huge diff

          • tibi stibi

            i found the total debt in your article:
            ”The total value of the debt for this transaction is approximately
            $260.5 million.”

            270 GWh for $260 million that is about $1 for 1kWh every year for 30 or so years. (this apart from the operation costs)

            so if it lasts 30 years it will be 3 cents per kWh for installation costs.

      • Ronald Brakels

        By the way, I have a figure of about 5.1 hours of direct sunlight a day for an optimally aligned panel in Capiopa. I’m guessing the higher figure is correct since Chile is a pretty sunny place.

        • Bob_Wallace

          How did you get 5.1 when I used the same site and got 4.68?

          (Rechecks….)

          My bad. I’m thought I had South (thou it’s really North) and optimal angle. 5.1 it is.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Ronald – take a look at Optimal Angle vs. Adjust Through the Year. It would seem that Adjusted would always be as good or better than Optimal. They should be tied only twice a year.

          Maybe I’m having a bad data day….

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