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AES Gener Plans $572 Million Solar Energy Project in Chile

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Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- AES Gener SA plans to build a $572 million solar farm in northern Chile as it seeks to boost electricity supply to copper miners in the Atacama Desert.

AES, a unit of Arlington, Virginia-based AES Corp., the U.S. power producer with operations in 28 countries, is seeking a permit to build the farm in Chile’s Antofagasta region where BHP Billiton Ltd. and state-owned Codelco operate copper mines, the company said in a Chilean regulatory filing today.

BHP, Anglo American Plc and other mining companies will invest almost $80 billion in Chile through 2013 to overcome a global copper shortage, boosting the need for energy in the Atacama Desert. AES supplies about a third of the energy in northern Chile.

Chile is considering a law that would set Latin America’s highest renewable energy goal and spur $10 billion of investments in clean power projects, reducing the nation’s reliance on hydroelectric dams. The lower house is evaluating a bill that would require Chile to get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, up from 5 percent, which is scheduled to increase to 10 percent in 2024.

AES Gener plans to invest $2.5 billion in Chile over the next five years to boost power supplies in the South American country that imports most of its fossil fuel needs.

Demersol Chile II Spa is seeking a permit to build a $32 million solar farm in the Atacama region, where Teck Resources Ltd. and Barrick Gold Corp. plan new mines, the company said in a filing yesterday.

Energias Renovables Fotones de Chile Ltda. also seeks a permit to build a $400 million, 180-megawatt solar farm, according to a Jan. 31 study.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Craze in Santiago at mcraze@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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