Solar energy booms in Chile, more than 3.1 GW in planned projects

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A tally of renewable energy projects approved and in development in Chile illustrates the promise of one of the industry's top emerging markets.

The Centro de Energías Renovables (CER), or Renewable Energy Center, in Chile says that more than 3.1 GW of solar energy projects were approved in 2012 through November, and another 908 MW were in qualification awaiting approval.

For all renewable energy projects (hydro, wind, biomass, solar, and geothermal), the CER counts 6.7 GW of renewable energy projects approved in Chile, and another 3.8 GW in the wings.

Roughly 1.27 GW spanning 10 projects was added in November, an increase of 530 MW over the previous month.

Chile could emerge as one of the leaders in the Latin American/Caribbean market for renewable energy, especially solar PV (particularly ground-mount), thanks to a combination of net metering, Renewable Portfolio Standards and other policies.

First Solar has just acquired Chilean project developer Solar Chile, which has various utility-scale projects totaling 1.5 GW in northern Chile, including the planet's highest solar irradiated region, the Atacama Desert. First Solar's own project pipeline has 3 GW of projects contracted to utilities, 2 GW of that under construction.

For wind, Chile has approved 3.25 GW and has another 2.7 GW in process, but only 205 MW in operation and 107 MW being built. Grand total: over 10.5 GW of projects approved or under assessment vs. 880 MW in operation and 281 MW under construction.

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