Solar energy

Large-scale solar power plant headed for North of Chile

The project in the Coquimbo Region is headed by Spanish company Ingenostrum, and will become one of the largest photovoltaic panel projects in the country. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 Category: Business - Technology
The Atacama Desert has some of the highest levels of solar radiation on the planet. Photo: pirindao The Atacama Desert has some of the highest levels of solar radiation on the planet. Photo: pirindao / Flickr

The future keeps looking bright for Chile’s solar energy industry. Spanish developer Ingenostrum has announced plans to build another large-scale solar power plant in the country’s North, this time in Sierra Gorda, in the Chilean region of Antofagasta.


The project will cover 531 hectares (1,312 acres), making it one of the largest photovoltaic panel projects in the country. Photovoltaic energy involves the direct transformation of sunlight into electricity at the atomic level.


For the Sierra Gorda project, Ingenostrum is pairing up with Martifer Solar, a Portuguese-based manufacturer of solar modules. Ingenostrum will oversee the engineering, project management, and quality control of the plant. Martifer Solar will be responsible for supplying equipment, construction works, maintenance and monitoring.


Ingenostrum is the largest developer of solar projects in the Chilean market. In April, the company applied for permits to build six other solar plants, valued at nearly $US2 billion, which could provide 668 megawatts of power to the region. Two of those projects have recently been approved by Chile’s environmental regulators, the Servicio de Evaluación Ambiental.


The company has also expressed interest in building both wind farms in the Coquimbo Region and biomass plants in Southern Chile, according to a Diario Financiero interview with Ingenostrum Director of Strategic Planning Santiago Rodríguez. Rodríguez estimated these projects would cost about $US400 million.


Northern Chile is well known for its renewable energy potential, as the massive Atacama Desert has some of the highest levels of solar radiation on the planet. Chile has aimed to increase its renewable energy use by 20 percent by the year 2020.


Many ambitious solar projects already exist in the country, including a solar plant that provides electricity to the Codelco Chuquicamata copper mine (the largest open-pit copper mine in the world), and a solar powered irrigation system for a vineyard in the Atacama Desert.

img_banner