The 100MW Amanecer Solar CAP plant located in Copiapo, Chile, was built, developed and interconnected by SunEdison subsidiary Amanecer Solar. The plant was constructed under a 20-year contract for difference (CFD) agreement with CAP Group, the biggest steel producer in Chile and will power CAP's mining projects in the area.
Construction on the $250m project began in August 2013 and an inauguration ceremony was held in June 2014. It is the biggest photovoltaic solar power plant in Latin America and one of the world's biggest solar power plants.
The renewable power generated by the plant serves approximately 125,000 Chilean households annually.
Amanecer Solar CAP plant location
The photovoltaic power plant is situated 37km from Copiapo in the Atacama Desert at an altitude of 1,165m from sea level. The plant consists of more than 310,000 photovoltaic modules spread across 250 acres (101ha).
"The renewable power generated by the plant serves approximately 125,000 Chilean households annually."
The annual generation capacity of the plant is expected to be up to 270GWh upon achieving full functionality. It would take more than 71 million litres of fuel to generate the same amount of energy using diesel.
The site can be accessed through state road C-309 and the construction for an additional direct-access road is being planned.
Technology used at the Amanecer Solar CAP power plant
The Amanecer Solar CAP PV plant has 73 power generation blocks installed with more than 310,000 SunEdison Silvantis™ photovoltaic solar modules, which are mounted on SunEdison AP90 single-axis solar trackers. SunEdison's parent company MEMC provided the ground-mounted photovoltaic crystalline modules.
Sunlight is converted into direct current (DC) with the help of the photovoltaic modules. An inverter converts the DC power into alternate current (AC) popwer, which is transmitted to the Sistema Interconectado Central's (SIC) network.
Grid connection and power transmission
A 9km-long transmission line was connected to the 220kV Cardones-Cerro Negro Norte main grid transmission line in January 2014, in order to feed the generated energy to the SIC power transmission grid.
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The transmission line requires a right-of-way 370m long and 23m wide on each side that is situated on government land south-west of the project site. The developers have applied to the Ministry of Bienes Nacionales, which is in charge of public lands in Chile, to gain the right-of-way.
Financing the Amanecer Solar CAP plant
SunEdison closed a $212.5m non-recourse debt financing arrangement in September 2013 with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US Government's development finance institution. Rabobank provided a local Chilean peso VAT facility.
Contractors involved with Latin America's biggest solar power plant
HIDROSTANK provided the PV solar plant with reinforced polypropylene access chambers (cable pits).
Basic engineering for bidding, engineering review, works inspection and quality control of a 23/220kV transformer power substation, an 11km-long, 220kV transmission overhead power line and a 220kV sectioning power substation forming part of the project was provided by Ingenieros Emetres.