Irish renewables firm secures approval for major Chile project

10 Feb 2017

Mainstream Renewable Power site in Droogfontein, South Africa. Image: MainstreamRP/Flickr

Mainstream Renewable Power’s footprint in South America is about to get a little bigger following approval to build a $290m set of solar parks in Chile.

In the past three years, Mainstream Renewable Power’s international reach has extended from the seas of Scotland to the southern plains of Ghana, the Cape of Africa and the coast of Chile.

The latter is being added to soon, after the Dublin-based company secured planning permission for a new 245MW facility, set to be one of the largest approved projects in the Atacama region of Chile.

At a cost of $290m, Mainstream build two solar parks located in the communes of Copiapó and Tierra Amarilla, named Parque Solar Río Escondido and Parque Solar Valle Escondido respectively.

The former will be located in an area of approximately 422 hectares, 58km from the city of Copiapó. It will have 550,368 photovoltaic panels and will have a capacity of 145MW of power.

The Valle Escondido solar park, located 49km from the same city, will have 382,000 panels located on an area of approximately 360 hectares, with an installed capacity of 100MW of power.

The project is not part of a separate $1.65bn deal that the company landed in August last year, with seven wind energy plants to be built as part of the agreement.

Bart Doyle, GM for the company’s Chilean operations, said the north of the country – where the Atacama region is situated – benefits from some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world, though Chile has yet to properly promote and develop its solar energy resource.

“With the Escondido project, we want to contribute by delivering clean energy for the region and the country, which will help diversify the energy mix and move towards sustainable development,” he said.

The company has one of Chile’s larger solar portfolios, with more than 2,000MW in development, from Arica in the north to Puerto Montt in the south.

In 2015, Mainstream led a consortium that won a major South African solar deal. Worth an estimated €420m, the 140MW Kangnas Wind Farm – located in the Nama Khoi municipality in the Northern Cape – was the subject of the bid.

In the same year, Mainstream secured a 15-year contract from the UK National Grid for a 450MW Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in the outer Forth Estuary in the North Sea of Scotland. This deal was rumoured to be worth £2bn at the time.

Meanwhile, in Ghana, the company was also involved in a wind farm 40km from Accra, the country’s capital city.

Mainstream Renewable Power site in South Africa. Image: MainstreamRP/Flickr

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic