Chile Shines in Strong Latin America Solar Growth

By:Manuel Tagle

July 1, 2016

El Salvador power plant in Chile

Editors Note: In 2020, SunPower announced the completion of the strategic spin-off of its manufacturing division into a separate business named Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd. As a result, SunPower has expanded its offerings to drive future growth. The SunPower Equinox® system now offers multiple panel options, including front- and back-contact panels, all of which are responsibly and rigorously quality tested to provide the best energy solution for your home.

If you’ve been following the solar energy industry over the last decade, you’re likely aware of the recent exponential solar market growth in countries such as the United States, Germany and Japan. But recently Latin America’s solar industry has also been gaining strength: In 2015, 1.4 gigawatts of solar were installed in the region,* more than doubling the installed solar capacity of 2014.

In the Latin America market Chile is leading the way. At the beginning of 2016, Chile became the first and largest photovoltaic (PV) market in Latin America, surpassing 1 GW of cumulative installed PV capacity.* As of May 2016, Chile continues on this growth trajectory with 1.3 GW in operation, 3.2 GW under construction and 1.5 GW announced.*

SunPower and Total Nuevas Energías ​work together in Chile with an office in Santiago. The team is dedicated to project development and commercialization of energy and high efficiency competitive solar solutions.

In 2015, SunPower completed construction of the 70-megawatt PV Salvador project in Chile's Atacama Desert, which delivers energy to the Central Interconnected System (SIC) grid. And in May, we signed power purchase agreements with two Chilean customers: Metro de Santiago and Colbún.

With the completion of a 100-megawatt solar power plant that we will construct between Chile’s Coquimbo and Atacama regions 400 miles north of Santiago, Metro de Santiago will be the world’s first metro system to be powered by solar energy. Via a connection to Chile’s SIC grid, the power will be used to support the service Metro provides transporting 2.2 million passengers daily.

SunPower offers offsite solar energy solutions that allow for a large scale solar power plant to operate remotely, delivering energy over long distances. Offsite solar solutions like this address the needs of industrial and commercial customers who have land constraints, multiple site locations and a commitment to sustainability.

Colbún, the second largest generation company in Chile's SIC, chose SunPower and Total among 13 companies in a competitive tender process. Under this PPA, we will construct a 164 MW solar power plant for Colbún, providing the company with reliable, cost-effective clean power and helping it diversify its energy portfolio.

"This contract is a further step toward our strategy optimizing our generation mix and strengthening our market position," said Thomas Keller, CEO of Colbún.

Solar is an ideal energy source for Chile because of the amount of sunlight it receives and the country’s transparent energy policies. In partnership with Total, SunPower is committed to the continued growth of our business in Chile.