Korean Company Plans $4.5 Billion Solar Project in Chile

  • Hybrid 1,000-megawatt solar plant will produce power at night
  • Chile set goal to get 20% of power from renewables by 2025

The South Korean energy company Andes Green Energy is planning a $4.5 billion solar project in northern Chile that will combine conventional photovoltaic panels and thermal technology that will generate electricity at night.

The Bundang-Gu Calama project in the Antofagasta region is in the final phase of environmental approval and the company plans to start construction in January, according to Cristian Lincoqueo, head of sustainability at Andes Green Energy’s Chile unit. The project is expected to be fully operational in 2022.

Renewable sources generated 12 percent of Chile’s energy last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The government has set a goal of boosting that to 20 percent, excluding hydro power, by 2025, and said in May it’s on pace to get there as many as five years early.

“It is an ambitious project,” Lincoqueo said in a telephone interview. “Its biggest advantage is that it will generate solar energy at night, when there is no more sunshine, and when power demand in Chile is peaking.”

The Bundang-Gu Calama project will have a total of 1,000 megawatts of capacity, with 700 megawatts coming from standard panels. The other 300 megawatts will be solar-thermal technology, which uses heat from the sun to produce power, and includes a storage system to retain heat to make electricity after sundown. 

Andes Green Energy wants to sell the energy produced in Bundang-Gu through bilateral contracts to mining companies in the region. It will get panels and investment from South Korea, and is arranging financing with Korean banks.

The company is also planning a second project, Bundang-Gu Pozo Almonte. It will use the same technology and have comparable size, and is planned for the Tarapaca region.

Andes Green Energy is also seeking opportunities in other parts of South America including Peru and Panama, according to Executive Director Carlos Sanchez Vergara.

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