The first two blocks of First Solar, Inc.'s Luz del Norte solar project have been connected to the Chilean central grid, the company announced today. The interconnect includes approximately half of the project's total 141MW capacity.
"This exciting milestone is proof of how utility-scale solar is a viable energy alternative for Chile right now," said Cristian Sjogren, First Solar's Chile country manager. "Luz del Norte harnesses one of the region's richest resources, allowing Chile to reduce dependence on fossil-based fuels and meet renewable energy targets set by the national Energy Agenda." Sjogren pointed out that the project is also an example of how the global energy transition towards clean renewable energy alternatives is taking place in Latin America.
Construction of the Luz del Norte power plant, located 58km north of the city of Copiapó, began in August 2014 and is expected to enter full commercial operation by January 2016. It will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 174,000 homes, avoiding over 185,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. First Solar is the developer and owner of Luz del Norte.
"We are proud to leverage our industry-leading expertise in project development, high energy yield PV technology, grid integration and energy asset management to create a truly remarkable renewable energy asset for Chile," said Joe Kishkill, First Solar's President, International. "First Solar is a strong, reliable technology partner, and we are eager to work with other solar developers with projects in Chile. There is great opportunity to continue solar development at the scale of Luz del Norte."
"First Solar is positioned to offer comprehensive PV energy solutions to meet the needs of our customers from high efficiency modules and mounting solutions to turnkey utility solar solutions. We believe strong, mutually beneficial partnerships are critical to the continued growth of a reliable, sustainable solar energy market," Sjogren said. "Projects like Luz del Norte represent only the beginning of what is to come of solar energy in this region. First Solar is committed to taking energy forward in Chile."
Upon completion, Luz del Norte will generate power using 1.7 million of First Solar's thin film photovoltaic modules.