Big solar projects move forward in Chile

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From pv magazine Latam.

Ireland-based renewable energy project developer Mainstream Renewable Power announced on  Tuesday that it will invest $934 million in the construction of Huemul, the second phase of the renewable energy platform Andes Renovables.

Huemul consists of five projects, three wind farms totaling 425 MW and two photovoltaic arrays with an aggregate capacity of 205 MW. The projects are expected to begin commercial operations between 2021 and 2022.

At the end of August, Mainstream secured $620 million in financing from a consortium of five banks to build the new renewable energy complex. The funds come from IDB Invest, KfW, IPEX-Bank, DNB, CaixaBank and MUFG. A sixth bank, Santander Chile, financed the VAT credit. Mainstream will cover the remaining amount with its own funds to reach the total investment of $934 million.

Indian EPC Sterling & Wilson and Greece-based Metka-Egn will build the Valle Escondido and Pampa Tigre solar parks, respectively. The electrical connection works will be carried out by Chile’s Transelec, Inprolec and a consortium formed by Isotron and German conglomerate Siemens, while the five main transformers for the projects will be supplied by Hitachi ABB Power Grids.

Andes Renovables comprises projects totaling 1.3 GW that were winners in the electricity tender held by the Chilean government in 2016 and will involve a total investment of $1.8 billion. It will be one of the largest non-conventional renewable energy platforms in Latin America. Spanning three phases, the project is expected to include a total of 10 wind and solar parks extending from the Antofagasta region to the Los Lagos region. It is precisely this geographical and technological diversification that ensures a constant electricity supply, the company claims.

The first phase of Andes Renovables, called Cóndor, which consists of four facilities and required a total investment of $830 million, is still under construction. When it becomes operational it will contribute 571 MW of sustainable energy to the Chilean energy matrix. The third and final stage of the platform, Copihue, is in the process of securing financing to add another 100 MW of capacity.

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Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Environmental Assessment Commission of the Valparaiso region has approved the environmental impact study for the Meseta de los Andes photovoltaic project.

The project, belonging to the Netherlands-based independent power producer Sonnedix, includes the construction and operation of a 191.93 MW photovoltaic park, a substation and a 220 kV transmission line with an approximate length of 15.6 km to the existing substation Los Maquis (220 kV), owned by local energy company Colbún.

The project will rely on more than 440,000 panels, some on fixed structures and others on trackers on an axis. In its construction phase, it will require an investment of $165 million.

“This will be the largest photovoltaic plant in the region and the central area and the second that will produce the most electricity from the sun in the country,” said Valparaiso region energy minister Fernanda Pinochet.

Sonnedix is ​​also currently building the 171 MWp Sonnedix Atacama Solar photovoltaic plant in the Pica district of the Atacama desert, one of the largest solar energy projects in Chile.

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