Cap Vert Energie completes three DG PV plants totaling 10.5 MW in Chile


French independent power producer Cap Vert Energie (CVE) will connect three distributed generation ground-mounted PV plants to the grid near Santiago, central Chile, next week. According to information provided by the company to pv magazine, the three solar facilities have a combined capacity of 10.5 MW and are planned to sell power to local customers, although the PPAs are not yet secured. CVE, however, said it is now testing the market and is confident it will find the best contract for each of its plants, and that it has a 4-year time frame to reach secure the PPAs.

One of the facility, named San Francisco, is located 50 km north of Santiago, in the municipality of Colina, Chacabuco province. The 3.6 MW plant relies on 11,200 320 W modules from Chinese panel maker Trina, three SMA Sunny Central inverters and 18 trackers 1 axis N/S Multirow from Spanish provider Clavijo. A second plant, the 3.6 MW La Quinta facility, is also to be located in Colina and use the same PV components as its fellow project.

The third project, dubbed Valle de la Luna, is a 3.3 MW solar plant located 20 Km northwest of Santiago. The company utilized for the project 10,080 325 W modules from Chinese manufacturer Jinko, four central inverters 720 CP-XT from German producer SMA, and 138 trackers 1 axis N/S Single row from German engineered PV mounting systems and trackers provider Ideematec.

The company said these three facilities are the first of a 200 MW portfolio for decentralized solar in the country that is expected to reach completion by 2022. Including the three projects under construction, the portion of the portfolio currently under development has reached 55 MW.

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Pierre de Froidefond, one of the three founding partners of CVE along with Christophe Caille and Hervé Lucas, said to pv magazine that the three projects are bankable, despite current low electricity prices in Chile. ““First of all,” De Froidefond explained, “all our plants are located in the Santiago area, where the electricity demand is strong thanks to a larger population than in remote areas where low electricity prices have been seen in recent years. Second, our projects as part of the PMGD Program (Pequeños Medios de Generación Distribuida) are eligible to stabilized prices that are higher than the spot market prices because they are calculated by the Chilean national Energy Commission (CNE) with a mid-term perspective.”

De Froidefond stressed that the company’s business model is based on distributed energy produced locally and sold through PPAs to meet the needs of companies and communities. “That’s why we target projects that are in the right locations, which means densely populated, offering multiple PPAs’ opportunities. In terms of business strategy, we favour local partnerships to accelerate our time to market and quickly gain local experience,” De Froidefond added.

Unlike large-scale PV power plants, projects developed under Chile's PMGD Program are granted automatic connection to the medium voltage grid and the certainty that all power production will be injected to the electricity system. The program is open to PV projects not exceeding 9 MW.

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