What’s better than solar power? Unsubsidized solar power that’s already cheaper than still subsidized fossil fuels. And Chile’s getting it. Notably, one of the big solar PV projects it now has planned is to be built by a US company that has mostly just been involved in the manufacturing of solar modules (not the building of solar projects).
Several solar PV module companies have begun to diversify and jump into the solar developer realm in order to improve their finances and take even more advantage of the booming solar market. US SunPower is one such company. SunPower has long been a leader in commercial solar module efficiency, and also one of the top 10 (or even often top 5) solar module producers in the world. The company has quickly jumped into the hot Chile solar market. SunPower is now set to build Project Salvador, an unsubsidized 70MWp PV power plant in the Atacama Desert region of Chile.
The project will reportedly be the “largest merchant solar power station in the world,” with the electricity being sold on the regional spot market.
Ownership of the solar PV power plant will be as follows:
- 70% independent power producer Etrion
- 20% majority SunPower shareholder Total (Total owns 66% of SunPower)
- 10% Spanish renewable energy firm Solventus Energias Renovables
The solar PV power plant is projected to produce enough electricity for approximately 60,000 people per year, 200 GWh.
Of course, the power plant will use SunPower technology. This includes SunPower’s Oasis Power Blocks — a fully integrated system that uses SunPower solar panels and single-axis trackers.
SunPower again started making a profit in quarter 2 of 2013, and its stock price approximately quadrupled in the first two, rebound quarters of 2013.
The 70 MW, unsubsidized Project Salvador solar farm will cost approximately $200 million. Construction is projected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2013, following the financial closing for the project. Electricity from the SunPower solar farm is projected to begin delivery in the first quarter of 2015.