Chile heats up: SunPower and Enel add new power plants

On Friday, SunPower, Total and Chilean energy officials celebrated the completion of the US$200 million, 70 MW PV Salvador project in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

The project, which records show was synchronized to the grid late last year, is one of the world’s largest merchant solar power plants, according to SunPower and Total.

"As one of the world’s largest operating solar merchant power plants, PV Salvador represents an important milestone for the electricity generation industry, proving that solar can provide wholesale power at competitive prices in completely unsubsidized markets," said Bernard Clement, senior vice president, Total New Energies, in a statement.

Equipped with more than 160,000 crystalline solar panels mounted on single-axis trackers, the plant is expected to generate around 200 GWh per year, or enough to supply approximately 70,000 Chilean households, according to Total.

SIC’s latest generation update also shows that Enel’s 55 MW Lalackama PV plant began generating electricity on Jan. 11. The $110 million project is located in northern Chile.

Regulator documents show approximately 265 MW of PV on line at the end of 2014, with more than 1.8 GW of additional PV plants scheduled to come into service this year, and more than 4 GW through 2017.

While some of these projects may be speculative, SunPower’s and Enel’s new additions to Chile’s grid shows that many projects are real.

IHS predicts that Chile will become the next emerging market to reach 1 GW of total installed PV capacity this year.

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