Top 10 Biggest Solar Photovoltaic Projects in Chile

A recent study by GTM Research shows that the Latin American PV market grew by 370% in 2014, when 625 MW of additional solar power were installed.

Chile has been the most active country in the region and installed three quarters of the new PV capacity. Thanks to the fully liberalized electricity market, the high solar irradiation combined with numerous sunny days throughout the year, and the electricity prices ranking among some of the highest in the world, Chile has become a very interesting market for international investors and project developers.

In 2014, the Chilean solar market flourished as developers in the region witnessed many of their large-scale solar PV constructions become installed and connected to the grid. With a record-setting first quarter of 2015, Chile is evolving into a world-class player in terms of cumulative installations.

chile pv

image: sunedison – more info here

Notably, SunEdison is represented well throughout the list with three big plants. The company completed their 100 MWp plant in the Atacama desert following an agreement with the mining company CAP Steel Group, which produces enough energy to power the equivalent of 15% of their total energy demand. The financing arrangement was provided by IFC, OPIC, and Rabobank.

Developer Enel Green Power also made great strides by connecting three installations with a cumulative 136 MWp over the past several months. Keeping in mind Enel’s pipeline in Chile, even more developments can be expected from the Italian multinational player in 2015.

Spanish solar developer, Solarpack, is the developer of the 25 MW Pozo Almonte Solar, located in Tarapacá, the northernmost region of Chile. The project generates 13% of the annual power required by local mining firm Doña Inés de Collahuasi, which has signed a PPA with the plant.

Merchant solar

A major trend visible in the list is the choice for merchant solar constructions, instead of PPA’s. The Chilean region is able to offer solar PV on the spot market thanks to a combination of high spot prices in parts of the grid, and having the highest insolation rates in the entire world. This trend demonstrates the future potential and competitive advantage of solar PV over other traditional energy sources in the region. Currently, the biggest merchant solar power projects in the world are based in Chile and are owned by Sunpower and Sunedison.

Debt providers

The financial arrangements for the projects are most often provided by OPIC, and the IFC. The IADB has also been very active and has the potential to surpass the other two in 2015.

Outside Top 10

The three plants just outside of this Top 10, in positions 11-13, are all around 3 MWp in size and based in the Atacama region: Solar Santa Cecilia by Commonplace Energy, Avenir 1 by Avenir Solar, and El Salvador by RTS Energy.

Looking forward

Chile is expected to be Latin America’s first market to install 1 gigawatt in a single year, so stay tuned for our upcoming list of 20+ major projects under construction.

Source (for data): Comisión Nacional de Energía – Capacidad Instalada Por Sistema Eléctrico Nacional – January 2015

No. Name Size (MWp) Connection Finance Developer Region Year
1 Amanecer Solar 100.0 SIC PPA Sunedison Atacama 2014
2 Parque FV Maria Elena 72.8 SING Merchant Sunedison Antofagasta 2015
3 PV Salvador 68.0 SIC Merchant Sunpower Atacama 2015
4 Lalackama I 60.0 SIC PPA Enel Green Power Atacama 2015
5 San Andrés 51.0 SIC Merchant Sunedison Atacama 2014
6 Chanares 40.0 SIC PPA Enel Green Power Atacama 2015
7 Diego de Almagro 36.0 SIC PPA Enel Green Power Atacama 2014
8 Pozo Almonte 25.0 SING PPA Solarpack Tarapacá 2014
9 La Huayca I, II 9.6 SING Merchant Selray Energias Tarapacá 2015
10 Los Puquios 3.0 SING PPA Sonnedix Tarapacá 2014