The ministers of energy and mines of Chile, Jorge Bunster and Hernán de Solminihac, inaugurated Chile‘s largest solar plant in the north of the country yesterday, according to the news service of the region of Arica y Parinacota.
The El Águila plant in Arica y Parinacota is near a facility of the mining company Quiborax, around 60 km from the city of Arica, and will cover about 30% of the electricity needs of the facility.
The project has been jointly developed by Quiborax, which produces mainly boric acid, and energy firm E-CL, one of the largest utilities in Chile. The plant, operated by EC-L, has its grid connection to the grid of the Great North Interconnected System (SING).
Both companies signed a PPA for the US$7 million project a year ago.
The five-hectare plant contains around 8,000 solar panels on singleaxis trackers.
The region also announced this week environmental approval has been granted to extend the plant to 40 MW with around 161,000 crystalline solar modules at an estimated investment of $100 million.
Chile has a 6 GW solar pipeline with most of the projects planned in the north to power mining companies. However, according to a report of the Renewable Energy Center of Chile, as of June, only 3.6 MW of solar installations were connected to the grid with a further 69 MW under construction.