First Solar eyes 370MW Chile PV

First Solar plans to invest $823m to build a 370MW (ac) solar PV plant in northern Chile which, if approved, would become the largest in Latin America.

In a statement, the Chilean government says that First Solar submitted plans last month for the proposed Parque Sol del Desierto and is seeking environmental authorization from the Energy Ministry’s renewable energy department (CER).

If approved, First Solar's project would almost triple Chile's current solar PV installed generation capacity of 184MW.

First Solar in June said it was close to finalizing a loan package for its 141MW (ac) Luz del Norte solar PV project, also in northern Chile.

Luz del Norte was the first project unveiled by First Solar in Chile since acquiring the Santiago-based developer Solar Chile at the beginning of last year. At that time, First Solar revealed that Solar Chile had a portfolio of “early- to mid-stage” projects in northern Chile.

The sparsely populated 1,000-km-long (600-mile) Atacama Desert along Chile’s coast is the world’s driest non-polar desert. It is notable for high levels of solar radiation. The desert is the center of Chile’s power-hungry mining industry.

The government says that Parque Sol del Desierto was the largest single project submitted in June for approval. Three other solar projects adding up to 138MW were registered along with two wind projects totaling up to 347MW.

It says an additional 448MW of solar PV projects are under construction. By comparison, wind power in operation totals  682MW, with another 154MW being built.

Additionally, there are 100MW of concentrated solar power (CSP) being built and 760MW approved.