1.26 MW PV plant to power Chile's mining operations

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French solar energy company SolaireDirect has completed a 1.26 MW PV plant in northern Chile’s Coquimbo region, famous for its large copper mines.

Constructed in conjunction with local mining company Minera Dayton, the solar plant will be officially opened this Friday by Chile’s Energy Minister Jorge Bunster, and will supply clean solar energy to the local, 1.9 hectare mining sector.

Regarded as the world’s number one region for mining copper, Coquimbo’s productivity is regularly undermined by intermittent power outages due to its remote location in Chile’s arid north. This solar solution is intended to keep the lights on for the power-hungry mining sector, which already consumes 90% of the electricity generated in the north of Chile.

However, Chilean energy experts have warned the country’s mining sector that it will be unable to keep up current production levels if the industry does not add between 6,000 to 8,000 MW of additional power supply over the next eight years.

This collaboration with Minera Dayton is not SoliareDirect’s first foray into the Chilean market. In November the company’s Chilean subsidiary completed a 1.2 MW PV plant in Chile’s mountainous Fourth Region desert, with China’s JinkoSolar supplying the modules.

Although both installations are relatively small in isolation, they do add to Chile’s burgeoning PV capacity, which also received a $200 million, 70 MW boost this week with the announcement that French oil and gas giant Total is to finance a large-scale merchant PV plant in the country’s Atacama region.