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20 October 2014

First Solar installs inaugural panel at South America’s largest PV project, in Chile’s Atacama region

In the presence of the Republic of Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, the Chilean Senate’s President Isabel Allende and Minister of Energy Máximo Pacheco, cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has ceremonially installed the first solar panel for the 141MWac Luz del Norte Solar Power Plant. Located 58km north of the city of Copiapó, the project is expected to be complete by December 2015 and will become the largest solar plant in Latin America as well as the biggest in the world to sell electricity on an open contract basis (and not necessarily only to regulated clients).

“This year alone, we are incorporating more than 1000MW of new energy to our system through different non-conventional renewable energies,” said Bachelet, speaking to a group gathered at the construction site. “This is an important step towards our 2025 target of having 20% of our energy coming from non-conventional renewable energies,” she added. “Chile is in a position to be a leader in renewable energy in the Southern Cone, and in the Atacama region we are doing so,” Bachelet continued.

“Northern Chile is one of the places with the highest solar radiation in the world, and therefore is the place to develop alternative renewable energy projects such as First Solar’s here in the Atacama region,” said Pacheco. “With the implementation of this technology, we will achieve the goal set in our Energy Agenda that, by 2025, 20% of the country's energy will come from such sources,” he added.

The project will generate power using 1.7 million of First Solar modules, and will produce enough energy to provide electricity to over 173,962 homes, avoiding over 185,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.

The 141MW generated by Luz del Norte will directly benefit the end consumer, since its generation entails low variable costs, which are expected to decrease the electricity system’s total cost of electricity.

Luz del Norte will positively impact the regional economy, creating up to 370 construction jobs. First Solar also places a priority on working with regional suppliers, while investing in training them to raise their standards to internationally required levels.

At the event, authorities recognized First Solar’s sponsored educational program with Jose Antonio Carvajal Polytechnic School in Copiapó, where a PV system was installed to educate and train the student community.

In conjunction with Solar Energy International (SEI), First Solar is completing its second year of renewable energy training with students from this educational establishment in the installation of PV panels, contributing to expanding their career opportunities as well as nurturing the nascent solar industry. The first 20 students to complete the program graduated this year, and another 23 are currently in their first year.

“Our students have achieved an added value to their training that gives them the tools to find employment in this area,” said Cristian Tapia, principal of Jose Antonio Carvajal. “This initiative is thanks to the Municipality of Copiapó, and First Solar, who trusted our students to carry out this project, which we hope will be maintained over time.”

“Thanks to this support, qualified students will be hired to work on the Luz del Norte project,” said Cristián Sjogren, First Solar’s country manager for Chile.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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