Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Power

World’s Biggest Solar Plant Financed By Spot Market

Originally published on RenewEconomy

French oil giant Total and Canadian listed power developer Etrion are planning to build a 70 MW solar PV farm in Chile that they say will be the largest in the world that will be financed only by revenues from the spot price of electricity.

Project Salvador, as it is being dubbed, will cost around $US200 million to be built, including around $US140 million of non-recourse project debt from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (“OPIC”), the US Government’s development finance institution.

The equity will be shared by Etrion (70 per cent), Total and Chilean firm Solventus. The project will use technology manufactured by US-based SunPower, whose biggest shareholder is Total.

The project will seek to take advantage of Chile’s high electricity prices, boosted by a demand shortage, to develop its returns.  But according to Total, the project is an important step in the process of transforming the capabilities of solar power in the world.

“This merchant project confirms that solar energy is becoming competitive with other conventional energy sources,” said Philippe Boisseau, the head of marketing and services and “new energies” at Total.

“Solar power is a compelling proposition in Chile due to the amount of solar irradiation received every day in the region. Combined with Chile’s high electricity prices, large energy demand and low construction costs, solar can compete with traditional sources of electricity in Chile without government subsidies.”

Etrion CEO Marco A. Northland, said the project will demonstrate that solar is a viable and sustainable power solution in Chile given the strong solar irradiation and high electricity prices in the region.

It is estimated that Chile has more than 3,000MW of solar projects in the pipeline, and is seen as the biggest opportunity for large scale projects to be constructed without subsidies.

Interestingly, Australia could be the next market to see solar farms built on a “merchant” basis, meaning they rely on the spot market for revenues rather than power purchase agreements from utilities or big energy users.

The proposed 56MW Moree solar farm – to be developed by FRV and Pacific Hydro – is looking to do just that.Moree Solar will be at least partially financed with debt from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which performs a similar function to OPIC, even though the new conservative Australian government wants to close the institution as part of its demolition derby of climate change and renewable energy policies.

RenewEconomy understands that other solar farm developers in Australia are considering similar models. The spot market is being pursued because developers find it virtually impossible to gain power purchase agreements from electricity utilities because of uncertainty about the future of the country’s renewable energy target.

Infigen Energy, for instance, has just switched on a 200kW solar system near its Capital wind farm near Canberra that it will use to test the spot market. (It should be pointed out that the financing does depend on the availability of renewable energy certificates, as Australian wholesale prices are low).

OPIC’s debt is being made with a 19.5 year tenor, a duration that would be virtually impossible to obtain from a commercial bank.

Both projects – the one in Chile and Australia – are likely to obtain power purchase agreements at some stage in the future.

Project Salvador is expected to begin construction in the next few months, with production due to start in 2015. The project will use SunPower Oasis Power Blocks system, which builds solar farms in 1.5MW modules using high efficiency solar panels and single-axis trackers.

Once operational, Project Salvador is expected to produce approximately 200 gigawatt-hours of solar electricity per year, suggesting a capacity factor of more than 30 per cent – and delivering regularly during daytime. It will provide enough to supply electricity to approximately 60,000 people in Chile.

(Update: This story was updated to correct shareholdings of the project).

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

is the founding editor of, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.


You May Also Like


Gabriel Boric, president of the world’s second largest producer of lithium, Chile, announced on April 20 that the country was adopting a “National Lithium...


The common conception appears to be that a successful transition to electric vehicles is determined by the number of passenger vehicles sold. China, Europe,...


While much of South America is having difficulty with the development of an electric vehicle market, Chile has made significant efforts to deploy EVs....

Clean Power

CleanLight is one of the most exciting clean energy startups in Chile. This renewable energy manufacturing company has used solar generators to power off-grid...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.