First Solar, SunEdison unveil big plans in Chile

First Solar Energy Ltd., a division of U.S. thin film module manufacturer First Solar, has presented plans for a 162 MW photovoltaic project to Chile’s Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA).

The governmental regulator reported on Monday that First Solar is planning to build the $370 million Luz del Norte solar park in the Atacama region city of Copiapó, which is becoming an increasingly popular hub for photovoltaic projects.

First Solar is scheduled to start construction on the project, which would include about 1.7 million modules, in June 2014.

First Solar has had ambitious plans in Chile for several years. In January, the company acquired the photovoltaic project developer Solar Chile. Formerly owned by Fundación Chile, Solar Chile boasted a portfolio of 1.5 GW of solar projects in the north of the country at the time of its acquisition.

Last week SEA also received applications from the Chilean subsidiary of U.S. group SunEdison as well as backers of the local Inca de Varas I project for planned solar parks in northern Chile.

SunEdison is looking to build a $241 million, 92 MW plant in the region of Tarapaca, SEA reported on Friday. The project would consist of 300,000 MEMC-SunEdison brand modules and include the use of tracking systems. If approved, the project is expected to begin construction in January.

The local developers of the 50 MW Varas Inca I project plan to build the $100 million plant in the Atacama region in March.

While planned photovoltaic projects in Chile currently exceed 6 GW, by May there were only 3.5 MW connected to the grid and another 69 MW of projects under construction, according to the latest report from Chile’s Center for Renewable Energy.