President Michelle Bachelet of Chile inaugurated the Amanecer Solar CAP plant in Copiapo. It is the largest PV solar power plant in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. The project was developed, built and interconnected by SunEdison under an off take agreement with CAP Group, the largest iron ore and pellet producer on the American Pacific coast, the largest steel producer in Chile and the most significant steel processor in the Southern Cone of South America.
The Amanecer Solar CAP plant has 100 MW of total installed capacity; the amount of energy consumed each year by approximately 125,000 Chilean homes, or equivalent to 10% of the renewable energy generation capacity goal established by the Chilean Government for 2014. The project involves an investment of US $250 million and is critical for the future development of renewable energy in Chile and Latin America.
Located 37 kilometers from Copiapo in the Atacama Desert, the plant has more than 310,000 PV modules spread over 250 acres. The Amanecer Solar CAP plant was built in only six months and all of its energy is injected into the Central Interconnected System, which lowers the net cost of grid electricity. In its first year of operation it is estimated that the plant will inject 270 GWh of clean energy into the system. To generate the same amount of energy using diesel would require more than 71 million liters of fuel.
Ahmad Chatila, President and CEO of SunEdison, noted: "This project has changed the course of renewable energy development not only in Chile and Latin America, but throughout the world. Amanecer Solar CAP has become a benchmark for SunEdison in how to develop photovoltaic solar energy on an international level."
Jose Perez, President of SunEdison for Europe, Africa and Latin America, added: "This plant demonstrates that PV solar energy is an ideal way of diversifying the energy matrix in Chile, reducing costs and contributing towards meeting the demand for clean and sustainable energy. SunEdison has now interconnected 150 MW in the Atacama Desert - the 100 MW Amanecer Solar CAP plant plus a 50 MW power plant in San Andres – and this is just the starting point. We are firmly committed to the future of clean energy production and the development of the energy industry in Chile."
The President of CAP Group, Roberto de Andraca B., said: "Our strategic alliance with SunEdison asserts CAP's commitment to sustainability and reaffirms the company's support of the renewable energy goals laid out by the authorities. The plant will generate the equivalent of 15% of our Group's energy demand."
Similarly, the general manager of CAP Group, Fernando Reitich, stressed that, "CAP's new projects have introduced the use of technologies and practices that are compatible with the environment and neighboring communities. The Amanecer Solar CAP plant is a concrete example of this strategy, which is in addition to other sustainable initiatives such as our mining project Cerro Negro Norte, and a desalination plant that will open soon in the Valle de Copiapo. We believe that this style of mining is part of a business vision that allows for the development of our present and future activities."