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Latin America Report: China's Growing Investment in Chile

China, always on the lookout for emerging markets, is investing in a $900 million, 300-megawatt (MW) solar farm as part of a broader trade agreement between the two nations.

The announcement was made shortly after a visit to Chile by China’s Premier Wen Jiabao. Chile produces a third of the world’s copper, and China’s rapid growth is increasingly dependent on the supply. Much of Chile’s solar pipeline is aimed at the copper industry, which has struggled to cope with the nation’s shaky grid.

Chilean leaders have expressed a desire to add about 8,000 MW to the 17,000 MW currently on the grid. Much of that addition is expected to come from renewable sources. By the first quarter of 2013, Chile expects to have more than 1,000 MW of renewable capacity. Most of that is biomass (41 percent), hydro (30 percent) and wind (28 percent). Solar makes up one-tenth of one percent. But there are many large-scale projects in the pipeline as international players line up to take a crack at the growing market.

Earlier this month, Spanish firm Solarpack announced plans to build a 25-MW solar park at a mine in the Tarapaca region. The project is expected to become operational by the end of 2013.


IN THE NEWS

Mexico In Its Solar Infancy: Mexico currently has only 6 MW of grid-connected solar, but the nation is looking to double that this year with far bigger plans ahead.

Vestas Inks 50-MW Deal in Mexico: Vestas has received a 50.4 MW order for the Los Altos wind power plant in Jalisco, Mexico. Delivery of the turbines is expected to begin in late 2012 and the project is expected to be completed by mid-2013.

74-MW Mexico Wind Project Completed: Gamesa has recently finished the 74-MW Bii Nee Stipa Wind Farm for Enel Green Power in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

SoWiTec ready to start 90-MW wind farm in Chile: German wind developer SoWiTec is gearing up to begin building out its 90-MW Valle de Los Vientos wind farm in northern Chile after securing the last remaining permits.

$185 Million Approved for Two Peruvian Solar Projects: The US-based Overseas Private Investment Corporation has approved $185 million for two solar power projects in Peru. Both facilities will have a 20-MW capacity and private equity business Conduit Capital Partners will distribute funds for their construction.

Solaria Energia Developing Projects in Argentina: Solaria Energía y Medio Ambiente is planning to develop up to 50-MW of PV projects in Argentina, the company has announced. Under an agreement signed by Solaria and Argentinian energy company Energía Argentina SA (ENARSA), Solaria will develop the projects throughout Argentina.


HOT TOPIC - LATIN AMERICA

Videos from Intersolar North America 2012 in San Francisco


FOCUS ON BRAZIL

Brazil’s Attempt at Distributed Generation: Rafael Figueiredo takes an inside look at Brazil’s net metering landscape, the path ahead and whether it will work.

Biodiesel plant in Cuba: A new biodiesel plant in Cuba — the first of its type — is turning seeds from the so-called “bellyache bush” into a green energy source.

In Some Scenarios, Rooftop Solar the Cheaper Option in Brazil: Producing power from rooftop solar panels in Brazil costs less than electricity sold by 10 of the country’s 63 power distributors, according to the national energy agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica.

Interest Increases in Brazilian Solar Market, but Challenges Remain: The Brazilian solar market has yet to get off the ground, and many of the existing photovoltaic installations are off-grid. However, according to ANEEL, there has been a recent "explosion" of interest in the country, with rooftop systems offering cheaper electricity prices than the grid. Nevertheless, based on existing support, the IEA is more skeptical about growth, writes PV Magazine.

Troubles Facing Brazil Wind Farm Developments: Wind-farm developers in Brazil may be forced to halt construction on some projects within 15 days because the state development bank BNDES is freezing financing for turbines purchased from suppliers it claims aren’t meeting local-content requirements.

ERB to Produce Biomass Power in Brazil by 2013: Energias Renovaveis do Brasil, the Brazilian biomass developer, will start producing energy at its first wood-fueled cogeneration project by July 2013 for the chemical producer Dow Chemical Co.


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