Chile's capacity of solar PV under construction nearly triples in one month

Chile now has 448 MW-AC of solar PV plants under construction, according to the July 2014 report from the nation’s Center for Renewable Energy (CER). This is a near-tripling of the 163 MW-AC figure that CER published in its June report.

The capacity of operational PV remains the same at 184 MW-AC. CER also reports another 5.8 GW of PV projects approved by the nation’s environmental authorities, however such approval has shown to be little indication that such projects will be built soon, if ever.

Earlier this month GTM Research reported that 836 MW-DC of solar PV is under construction in Latin America, and Chile is the region’s largest market. The numbers in CER’s July report align with GTM’s assertion that a number of large PV projects are beginning construction in the region.

“There is a huge jump in projects under construction from last quarter to this quarter, and this is because we are seeing bankable projects begin to land financing,” says GTM Research Global PV Demand Analyst Adam James.

“A lot of the more experienced developers spent the last year and a half developing groundwork for these projects, and they’re finally at the place where they can move forward.”

CER also reports that during June Chile’s solar PV plants generated 29.2 gigawatt-hours (GWh), representing roughly 0.5% of the nation’s electricity generation. This is roughly the same portion as in the United States.

When wind, biomass and other forms of renewable energy except large hydroelectric dams are included, “non-conventional” renewable energy represented 8.1% of Chilean electricity generation during the month, much more than the 5% required by law.

When the 448 MW-AC of solar PV plants under construction in Chile are completed, PV is expected to meet around 2% of the nation’s electricity demand, which is a similar portion to the average in Western Europe.