Bolivian President Luis Arce this week inaugurated the second phase of the Oruru Photovoltaic Solar Plant. Located 3,700 meters above sea level, the plant is believed to be the world’s highest altitude PV installation.
Batteries, and the raw materials that make them, are a frequent target of public criticism. The high water consumption required for lithium extraction is speeding up desertification around the salt lakes of Latin America’s “lithium triangle”, for example. The mining debate highlights general problems with the extraction of raw materials including copper, crude oil and lithium but international companies can still influence extraction methods – and there are plenty of different approaches.
The German company was chosen among eight bidders through an expression of interest process. It will be responsible for the construction, assembly and commissioning of a lithium manufacturing facility. The Bolivian government expects an annual income of US$1 billion.
The Oruro solar plant was tendered by the Bolivian government in April 2016. The $54.7 million facility will be connected to the network of local state-owned utility, ENDE.
The 50 MW Planta Solar Fotovoltaica Oruro project is scheduled for completion in 2018. Bolivia’s power utility ENDE is currently reviewing 16 bids for the projects.
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