ReneSola Ltd. (SOL) agreed to sell about 29 megawatts of photovoltaic panels to Chilean developer Selray Energias Ltd. to expand the La Huayca project into South America’s biggest solar power provider.
ReneSola, based in Jiashan, China, agreed two months ago to furnish the equipment, Humberto Romero, general manager of Selray Energias, said in a July 24 phone interview. Selray Energias will sign a contract on Aug. 5 with the International Finance Corp. to receive the first tranche of $46.9 million of debt to buy the equipment, he said.
The rise of mining in Chile’s desert north is leading solar developers to build projects to supply the increased demand for energy, said Maria Gabriela da Rocha Oliveira, a Sao Paulo-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The technology is also gaining traction in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Mexico as panel prices fall.
Solar energy “is the next big thing for Chile,” she said in a phone interview today. “Last year, for the first time, investment in solar energy in Latin America exceeded investment in biofuels. Four years ago renewable-energy investment in the region was basically all biofuels.”
A spokesman for ReneSola had no immediate comment on the deal.
Selray plans to spend $67 million expanding its existing 1.4-megawatt La Huayca project in the northern Atacama Desert to 30.5 megawatts by April.
The project will continue selling energy on the spot market to Chile’s northern grid, Romero said. The average spot price in the region is expected to rise to $120 a megawatt-hour in the next couple of years from an average of $84 last year as more mines come online, he said.
Selray is a joint venture between German solar developer Saferay GmbH and local engineering firm Seltec Ltda., according to an IFC statement. Saferay is also seeking permits to build a $300 million photovoltaic-power plant in the Atacama desert.
Central and South America have 114 megawatts of solar capacity online, while Germany has about 3,100 megawatts operating, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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