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306 MW Solar Project Planned For Chile

A very large photovoltaic solar plant is being planned for Northern Chile. Pattern Chile Development Holdings is working on the project slated for Antofagasta. If approved, it would be rolled out in three phases: 130 MW, 46 MW and then another 130 MW.

Image Credit: mtchm from

The site location has high irradiation levels and is close to transmission lines. If completed, electricity produced there would be fed into Chile’s Central interconnected system. If all goes as planned, construction could begin in September of 2014.

The Ministry of National Assets has approved about 17 solar projects in the last several months. Chile has a goal of 20% renewables by 2025. The Chilean senate voted recently to increase their previous target of 10%.

Currently, about5-6% comes from renewable sources, which is an increase from their 2011 rate which was about 3.2%. Chile has a population of about 17.6 million and they have very little solar power currently producing electricity.

So, adding over 300 MW in one project would be a massive increase.  Further, several GWs of solar installations have been approved, so Chile appears set to be more energy-efficient and have cleaner energy sources. (Imported oil is a big source of energy currently.) Also, much of the energy consumed in Chile is for mining, because copper production is a major part of the national economy.

Sadly, in some of these solar project news stories, they number of new jobs is not often reported. Surely, the number of construction workers and plant operators is newsworthy enough to state, especially during this period of economic recovery.

If Chile rapidly expands solar power production, and it appears that it will, this nation could experience an economic and culture shift larger than any other in recent history.  Smaller nations with large natural renewable resources such as abundant sunlight and wind could become energy independent sooner than the most populous countries.

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