Photovoltaic solar energy boom in Chile: in less than two months there are already 20 projects for more than US$ 2 billion

Only 52 days of the year have passed and what experts have called “a solar energy boom” is in full swing, according to the projects entered into environmental processing.

As of February 20, a total of 81 projects from various economic sectors have entered the list of the Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA). Of them, 20 are electricity generation plants using solar panels, that is, one in every four investment initiatives in any industry in the country is to produce solar energy. In total, these twenty projects add up to an estimated investment of US$2,023 million.

And they are not just small projects. At least four are consulting on investments worth more than $200 million.

It is striking that for months no conventional generation project, such as hydroelectric or thermoelectric, has appeared on this list. In fact, so far in a month and a half of 2024 there are five other electricity projects: three are wind generation, totaling an investment of US$ 1,240 million, and another two are energy storage, for US$ 130 million.

Among the solar projects that require larger amounts of investment are the Carolina Solar and Don Patricio photovoltaic parks, which foresee US$380 million and US$368 million, respectively.
The project of the company Carolina del Verano SpA would be located in the commune of Cauquenes, Maule, on a land of 766 hectares, and aims to reach a capacity of 497 MW to inject energy into the National Electric System.

Don Patricio, which is planned to be built in Tiltil, Metropolitan Region (RM), would have a maximum power of 200 MW and would occupy an area of 226.2 hectares.
Last year, the installed electricity generation capacity ended at 34,577 megawatts (MW), according to statistics from Generadoras de Chile. Of these, 23,204 MW corresponded to renewable energies, including hydroelectricity. Solar energy alone added 9,343 MW.

For this year, this installed capacity is expected to rise to 41,191 MW and renewable energies will represent more than half, totaling 29,763 MW. Of these, solar energy will take 13,770 MW, that is, it will increase by 47.4% in one year, being by far the area that is growing the most. Wind energy, for example, will also show a relevant increase, since it will go from 4,628 MW to 6,380 MW, with an increase of 37.8%.

There are several explanations for this boom in solar energy, such as the cheaper inputs or the clear internal regulatory policy in favor of renewable energies. However, this last reason has not been without controversy, since many of the projects that are being developed or in the process of execution are called PMG or PMGD (small means of distributed generation), that is, they are 9 MW initiatives. or less. of power, which as of December 2023 had an installed capacity of 2,658 MW, which enjoy a regulatory distortion that favors them, since they have a single price stabilized 24 hours a day, which reaches the level of a fuel plant fossils, which makes them very attractive as a financial investment. In fact, several international entities take ownership of these initiatives, as they are extremely convenient.