Bolivia, France to collaborate on solar, nuclear energy

Bolivian government officials and representatives of France’s Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) on Tuesday signed four letters of intent aimed at cooperation on renewable and nuclear energy as well as lithium production.

One of the letters, which was signed by Bolivian Energy Minister Juan José Sosa and Florence Lambert, director of CEA’s Laboratory for Innovation in New Energy Technologies and Nanomaterials (Liten), deals specifically with collaboration in solar energy.

According to a Bolivian government statement, the collaboration is intended to contribute to the integration of solar in Bolivia’s energy matrix. Bolivia has so far completed just one large-scale solar power plant – a 2 MW PV park in the state of Pando. There are plans to expand the project to 5 MW — with Yingli Spain already supplying the solar panels — as well as for a 20 MW solar power plant in the state of Oruro. In addition, there are numerous solar-based rural electrification projects in the country.

Another letter focusing on lithium production was signed by the Minister of Mining and Metallurgy César Navarro and Liten Director Lambert. Bolivia has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world. According to the statement, the letter of intent foresees collaborative programs throughout the entire lithium value chain, including batteries. The two countries also intend to work together on innovation aimed industrial development.

In addition to solar and lithium, France and Bolivia are also looking to work together in the field of nuclear energy. Unlike other countries in the region, the Bolivian government has expressed its wish to include nuclear power in the country’s energy mix, but the project is still at a very early stage.

"The letters of intent that we have signed are, for us, vital, important and structural in projects that deal with goals and objectives that we set as a plurinational state," said Minister of Mining and Metallurgy Navarro.

The letters of intent are part of a cooperative agreement on cultural, scientific and technical matters dating back to 1966.