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Energy minister and director of InvestChile inaugurate mega solar plant in Tarapacá Region

The S4 Solar Chile park will generate power equivalent to the consumption of 100,000 households and represents an investment of almost US$200 million.

On Friday, Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobet and the director of InvestChile, Cristián Rodríguez, inaugurated S4 Solar Chile, a new photovoltaic park located 120 kilometers southeast of the city of Iquique on some 350 hectares of land provided as a 30-year concession by the Ministry for State Properties. The park comprises over 300,000 solar panels that will generate clean energy.

The project required an investment of almost US$200 million and created 250 jobs during its construction phase. With an installed capacity of 103 MW, it generates the equivalent of the consumption of 100,000 households and obtained its environmental go-ahead during the first government of President Sebastián Piñera.

The plant uses technology that optimizes the panels’ efficiency by tracking the sun. It will avoid the emission of 124,650 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of the energy consumption of 300,000 homes.

With the park’s start-up, photovoltaic technology now accounts for 41% of the Tarapacá Region’s electricity matrix, up from 20%, and it will cease to emit approximately 124,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“Tarapacá is on its way to becoming an important renewable energy capital of Chile. Next year, 84% of the region’s installed energy will be clean and renewable. Tarapacá also has the planet’s highest solar radiation rates and the energy future is, therefore, promising, not only for this region but also for our entire country,” said Minister Jobet.

In the Tarapacá Region, there are 27 energy projects at different stages of development, representing a total of 4,175 MW and an investment of US$11,636,000 of which almost 90% is in renewables.

This year will also bring another important event for the region with the closure of Central Térmica Tarapacá, a coal-fired power plant. This is in line with President Piñera’s announcement of the closure of all the country’s coal plants, explained Minister Jobet.

“The inauguration of this solar plant by Sojitz Corporation and Shikoku Electric Power is good news for the region and an example of the interest that overseas companies have in a sector that has grown exponentially in recent years. Chile offers not only the greatest solar potential for the development of energy projects, but also the best conditions in Latin America for the implementation of investments, which is highly valued by overseas companies. As an agency, we are supporting 38 energy projects – of which 12 are solar – worth more than US$5 billion,” said the director of InvestChile, Cristian Rodríguez.

Jobet pointed out that, at US$3,125 million, the investment materialized in the energy sector in the country as a whole during 2018 accounted for 19% of total investment.

At present, 37 power generation projects are under construction, equivalent to 2,645 MW and an investment of US$7,796 million. Out of these, 95% correspond to renewable energies. In addition, 25 transmission projects are being built, totaling a length of 607 km and representing an investment of around US$667 million.

Currently, non-conventional renewable energies account for an installed capacity of 5,384 MW, equivalent to 22% of Chile’s electricity matrix.