First Solar grid connects first part of 141 MW Chilean PV plant


Set to be the largest solar PV plant in Latin America when complete, First Solar’s 141 MW Luz del Norte solar PV project has reached an important milestone, with around half of the project’s total capacity having been connected to Chile’s central grid yesterday.

Currently the generated electricity is being sold on the country’s open market, however the thin film PV company is looking to secure a permanent off-taker for the project, which is set to provide enough energy for 174,000 homes. It is located 58 km north of the city of Copiapó.

"This exciting milestone is proof of how utility-scale solar is a viable energy alternative for Chile right now," commented Cristian Sjogren, First Solar’s Chile country manager. "Luz del Norte harnesses one of the region’s richest resources, allowing Chile to reduce dependence on fossil-based fuels and meet renewable energy targets set by the national Energy Agenda."

Under Chile’s second energy supply auctions this year, held last Friday, First Solar, through project company SCB II SpA 2, won 20-year contracts to supply 88 GWh annually. The company’s bids came in at US$67-68 per MWh.

Overall, more than 2 GW of solar PV and CSP projects are under construction in Chile. GTM Research predicts that 1 GW will be installed in the country this year.