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27 June 2014

First Solar to build 141MW project in Chile, largest PV plant in Latin America

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services, has received board approval from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US Government's development finance institution, and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, for financing to support construction of the 141MWac Luz del Norte solar power plant in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The loans, which are expected to close later this summer, clear the way for First Solar to proceed with construction planning at the site, which is near the city of Copiapo.

The OPIC board approved a loan of up to $230m, and the IFC board approved a $60m loan.

The Luz del Norte project is the first of several projects that First Solar has in its regional development pipeline, and will be the firm’s initial project to start construction in Chile. The Chilean government’s National Energy Strategy includes expansion of the country’s renewable energy capacity to 20% of its total generated power by 2025. Energy from Luz del Norte will be supplied into the Chilean Central Interconnected System, contributing significantly towards this goal.

“The Latin American region has a growing need for innovative and efficient energy solutions,” comments Tim Rebhorn, senior VP, Americas, for First Solar. “This investment support from OPIC and IFC is instrumental in bringing the project in Chile to life.”

Chile’s Atacama Desert receives some of the planet’s steadiest concentrations of direct sunlight, presenting ideal conditions for solar power generation. Widespread utilization of this resource is relatively new, and Luz del Norte represents an important advance for the development of solar energy in the region, says First Solar.

“The Luz del Norte project is an important step in furthering solar power development in Chile, where the potential for this clean, renewable resource is unrivalled,” says OPIC’s president & CEO Elizabeth Littlefield.

First Solar has been working closely with the Chilean national government, industry, regional authorities and the local community to design, develop and build the Luz del Norte project, says Rebhorn. Particular effort has been placed on understanding community concerns about environmental impact, national interest in the technology related to connecting the project to the grid, and the broader industry’s power requirements, among other important considerations, he notes. “Forming strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with invested constituents is the only way to build a solid foundation for long-term success in this region.”

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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