TOTAL, a global integrated oil and gas company, and SunPower have completed the 70MW PV Salvador project, one of the world's largest operating merchant solar power plants. The power plant is expected to produce approximately 200 GWh of solar electricity per year, enough to supply electricity to approximately 70,000 households in Chile.
Chilean Minister of Energy Máximo Pacheco and executives from Total and SunPower attended the inauguration event today in El Salvador in Chile's Atacama Desert. Bernard Clement, senior vice president, Total New Energies, said, "As one of the world's largest operating solar merchant power plants, PV Salvador represents an important milestone for the electricity generation industry, proving that solar can provide wholesale power at competitive prices in completely unsubsidized markets."
SunPower designed and constructed PV Salvador. At the 138-hectare site, SunPower installed SunPower Oasis™ C1™ Power Plant technology, featuring proprietary single-axis trackers and over 160,000 SunPower's high-efficiency solar panels. About 300 jobs were created during construction work, many of which were staffed by local residents. SunPower will now provide on-going operations and maintenance. In the desert environment, cleaning the panels using SunPower's robotic cleaning patented technology may help increase annual power production by as much as 15% while using up to 75% less water than conventional panel cleaning methods.
PV Salvador will initially operate on a merchant basis where the electricity produced is sold on the spot market and is delivered to the Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC) electricity network. The facility connects through the power infrastructure of Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco).
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government's development finance institution, financed 70% of the approximately US$200 million project cost through long-term non-recourse project debt. The remaining portion was funded by Etrion, Total and Solventus, based on ownership interests of 70%, 20% and 10%, respectively.