The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a loan package for $41.4 million to private sector firms for the construction, operation, and maintenance of three photovoltaic solar power plants in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.
The financing consists of a loan for $20.7 million from the IDB’s ordinary capital and a loan for $20.7 million from the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in the Americas, which is administered by the Bank.
The plants in the Pozo Almonte and Calama Photovoltaic Project, whichwill have a peak generating capacity of 26.5 megawatts, will supply power to the Collahuasi and Codelco mining companies.
"This is one of the first large-scale solar energy projects in the region,” said Jean-Marc Aboussouan, chief of the Infrastructure Division of the IDB’s Structured and Corporate Finance Department, the Bank unit responsible for financing large-scale private sector projects.
"This project has a lot of upside--it helps reduce the country’s carbon footprint and is in line with the priorities of both Chile and the Bank, as well as with the objectives of the Canadian Climate Fund,” Aboussouan added.
The project’s major benefits will be to help develop local energy sources to diversify Chile's energy matrix, whose generating capacity is 75 percent dependent on imported fuels.
It will also replace fossil fuels with a renewable energy resource for power generation for the mining industry, which consumes 18 percent of the country’s electricity and accounts for 19 percent of the country's GDP, and reduce CO2 emissions by 56,000 tons annually.
The operation supports Chile’s National Energy Strategy, which aims to more than double the contribution of unconventional renewable energy to the country’s energy matrix in the next 10 years.
It is estimated that energy consumption in Chile will grow annually between 6 percent and 7 percent until 2020. The new IDB operation will help to bridge the gap between energy supply and demand by utilizing a local energy source that is clean, competitive, and abundant in the country, and can be developed quickly to boost growth of the Chilean economy.