Luz del Norte Solar PV Project in Chile
The Solar PV Farm is a grid-connected PV system of thin-filmed solar modules placed into and array that produces electricity from the sun on 456 hectares of greenfield site in the Atacama Desert. It has helped establish Chile as a leader in solar development and plays a significant role in the energy matrix of the country, lowering its dependence on carbon-intensive non-renewable energy resources. In addition to producing less CO2 emissions than fossil-fuel-burning technologies, the solar PV farm provides social and economic benefits to the locals through creating jobs, opening up new business opportunities, and promoting technology transfer of solar to accelerate clean energy development in the north of Chile.
PV power generation was nearly non-existent in Chile, despite the tremendous solar resource in the Atacama Desert. With almost 356 days of clear skies, high solar radiation and low humidity, northern Chile offers excellent conditions for generating solar energy. Before the solar PV farm, Chile was facing severe energy challenges and relied on Argentina for cheap natural gas until its neighbor cut off the gas supply, prompting Chile to continue using carbon-intensive energy sources to satisfy the energy demand of its growing copper-mining industry.
How It Works
The solar PV farm area is 456 hectares of a greenfield site in the Atacama Desert and covers the territory of Chile connecting to the two main regional grids. With 141 MW installed capacity, the PV plant provides low-carbon solar power. The result is clean electricity, improved regional energy security, less carbon emitted, and strengthened economy.
The Solar PV Farm produces less CO2 emissions than fossil-fuel-burning technologies. It generates electricity with no water use, no air emissions, and no waste production, and have the smallest carbon footprint of any PV technology. It also creates up to 370 construction jobs and provides business opportunities in environmental, transportation, food, and hospitality services for the locals. The project is expected to remove 2,292,695 tons of CO2e from the atmosphere over every 7 years – enough to offset a year of CO2 emissions from 249,000 U.S. homes’ energy use or 11,348 railcars worth of coal burned.
Facts & Figures
- Helps Chile keep its leading status in the copper mining industry without falling back on carbon-intensive energy sources to satisfy energy demand
- Demonstrates technology and helps accelerate the development of PV in the north of Chile
- Saves more than 2 million tons of CO2e emissions from entering the atmosphere over 7 years
- Contributes to Chile’s energy diversification
- Certification Standard: UN Clean Development Mechanism