SunPower | PRNewswire — Total and SunPower Corp. announced the completion of the 70-megawatt PV Salvador project, one of the world’s largest operating merchant solar power plants.
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.
“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,” said Bernard Clement, senior vice president, Total New Energies. “With our affiliate SunPower, we are pleased to assist the Chilean government in its goal to diversify its energy mix and we look forward to further developing our solar activities in the country.”
PV Salvador power plant is expected to produce approximately 200 gigawatt-hours of solar electricity per year, enough to supply electricity to approximately 70,000 households* in Chile.
“PV Salvador showcases advanced SunPower technology that will deliver maximized, cost-competitive solar power production over the next 25 years or more,” said Jorg Heinemann, SunPower’s executive vice president, global power plants, customer operations and EPC. “Together with Total, we are leading the market by delivering reliable, cost-effective clean power to Chile’s utility grid, positively impacting local businesses and people.”
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.