Rame plans Chile solar debut

UK-based developer Rame Energy plans to start construction of its first solar project in Chile by the end of this year – possibly a 21.5MW development in the Atacama region – the company told Recharge.

Rame – which is already actively developing almost 150MW of wind farms in the South American nation – will press ahead with its solar ambitions following its June acquisition of Beco, a UK PV systems integrator.

CEO Tim Adams said the company is looking at various options for its Chilean solar debut, including the 21.5MW Fundo FC Copiapo project in the Vallenar, Atacama region, northeast of Santiago.

Many of the 28 sites in its portfolio identified for potential wind development could host PV arrays, he explained.

"Because Rame selects project locations on the basis of local topography, which must be suitable for mobilising large components, as well as access to grid connections, most of our sites lend themselves equally to solar projects," Adams said.

Adams also sees potential for off-grid solar at agricultural sites – especially as projects below 3MW require no permits in Chile, which has become a global hotspot for PV development.

Rame – which made its debut on the London Stock Exchange earlier this year – plans to install a total of 300MW of wind and solar by 2017.

It has started construction on its first two 15MW wind projects and secured finance agreements with Santander Investment Chile for the next four 118MW of developments – including the 9MW Punta Chrome wind farm, for which it has signed a power-purchase agreement.

The Chilean renewable energy target was doubled in October 2013, to 20% by 2025, and the country's mining and industrial sector is "looking for externally-led power security and reduced cost of supply," said Rame, which aims to become a significant IPP there – initially with a focus on wind.

The company claims Chile offers considerable potential for "unsubsidised, commercially driven, private power sales".

"Solar energy comes as an additional power generation opportunity," said Adams.