Chilean officials announced yet another major development in the country’s renewable energy market at COP22 Marrakech climate change summit earlier this month.
According to media reports, Chilean officials announced plans to set up a solar power park of up to 1 GW capacity in the Atacama region. Officials stated that the proposed solar power park will use the favourable conditions of the Atacama region where land as well as solar radiation resource is aplenty.
The solar power park shall primarily service the mining industry also located in the Atacama region. A number of projects are already operational or under construction in the region. However, there were concerns about the economic viability of these projects as demand from the mining companies declined amidst reduced demand for mineral commodities.
In absence of adequate transmission capacity the project developers were also unable to sell electricity to residential and other consumers at population centres. As a result, several project developers were forced to feed electricity into the grid for free.
Earlier this year, Chile achieved 1 GW of installed solar power capacity with several major project developers, including Acciona, Enel Green Power, Pattern Energy, EDF and Marubeni, and SunPower, which are working on large-scale solar power projects.
The Chilean Congress also approved the Electricity Transmission Act which will establish a new interconnected transmission network shall be established alongside a new independent operator. he new law is expected to help in better distribution of electricity generated from renewable energy projects that currently remain concentrated in the Atacama desert.
The proposed solar power park is expected to require investment of around $4 billion. The government hopes to see a sustained drop in solar power prices. In August, Solarpack secured rights to develop a solar power project at a tariff of US¢2.91/kWh which remains one of the lowest tariff bids for a solar power project globally.