First Solar begins construction of 141 MW PV plant in Chile


First Solar has begun construction of the 141 MW-ac Luz del Norte Solar Power Plant in northern Chile last week.

Located some 60 kilometers north of the city of Copiapó, the project is scheduled to be completed by December 2015 and expected to be the largest solar plant in Latin America when finished.

First Solar ceremonially installed the plant’s first solar panel at an inaugural ceremony on Friday that was attended by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Isabel Allende, president of the Chilean Senate, and Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco.

"We are working hard to address Chile’s energy deficit,” said Bachelet, speaking to a group gathered at the construction site. “Projects such as this show that Chile is progressing towards being a clean energy producing country. This year alone, we are incorporating more than 1,000 MW of new energy to our system through different non-conventional renewable energies."

Bachelet added that the country’s current PV development was an important step towards its 2025 renewable energy target of 20%.

"Chile is in a position to be a leader in renewable energy in the Southern Cone, and in the Atacama region we are doing so,” the president added. “We must continue to assume leadership, and we must work as a team to assure the effort goes forward to attract more business and leverage greater economic growth."

Addressing the country’s solar potential, Pacheco said, "Northern Chile is one of the places with the highest solar radiation in the world, and therefore is the place to develop alternative renewable energy projects such as First Solar’s here in the Atacama region. We are confident what with the implementation of this technology, we will achieve the goal set in our Energy Agenda that, by 2025, 20% of the country’s energy will come from such sources."

For First Solar, the project will stand as a showcase in the region, according to Joe Kishkill, First Solar’s chief commercial officer, adding that the installation would "deliver resources that help fulfill Chile’s national energy policy while bringing competitively priced clean electricity to the market."