Solar power in Bolivia

German company Deea Solutions GmbH has been awarded a contract for the design of a solar energy plant to be installed in the southwestern Bolivian region of Oruro, the Andean nation’s hydrocarbons and energy minister said Thursday.

The company will conduct a study between March and August to determine the exact location for the 20 MW plant, Luis Alberto Sanchez’s office said in a statement.

The solar panels are be installed over an area estimated at between 35-40 hectares (86-98 acres), while the construction cost will be approximately $45 million, the minister said, adding that the power will be fed into the national grid.

Bolivia already has one solar plant, a facility installed by Spanish company Isotron – part of the Isastur group – that operates in the northwestern region of Pando near the country’s borders with Brazil and Peru.

That 5 MW plant thus far “has yielded good results,” Sanchez said.

The Hydrocarbons and Energy Ministry noted that solar plants have a minimal impact on the environment because they do not emit any type of toxic substance into the air, water or soil.

“A photovoltaic system is cheap to operate and … requires little maintenance compared to other plants,” the ministry added.

Bolivia is making an effort to diversify its energy matrix, 65 percent of which currently comes from thermoelectric sources.

Authorities have repeatedly said their goal for 2025, the country’s bicentennial, is for renewable sources such as hydro, wind and solar to account for 70 percent of domestically produced electricity, with thermoelectric sources making up the remaining output.