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20 February 2020

Peru continues solar push, capitalizing on high irradiation

By Andries Wantenaar

Peru has approved two Continua Energia Positivas solar projects, coinciding with the resignation of the previous Minister of Energy and Mines as part of the Odebrecht corruption scandal. The two projects are co-located in La Joya District, in the southern province of Arequipa. The CSF Continua Pichu Pichu project is 60 MW, while the CSF Continua Chachani project is 100 MW, and the two are predicted to cost $61 million and $138 million respectively.

Both new projects will use Trina Solar tracking panels, and come in addition to a third Continuas project, CSF Misti, which has already been approved, weighing in at 300 MW, with an investment of $299 million.

As of May 2019, the country had around 750 MW of solar installed, having entered the market in 2012 with the Latin America’s largest solar installation at that time – the 22 MW Reparticion project. In April 2019 Kallpa Generacion was allowed to begin feasibility studies for a 500 MW solar project called Solar Sunny near the city of Arequipa.

The Peruvian coastline generally receives a Global Horizontal Irradiation value of up to 6 kWh per square meter, but in Arequipa there are wide areas receiving 7.2 kWh per square meter, and it’s here that Peru’s recent solar developments are focused, such as the 180 MW Rubi plant commissioned in 2018.

The Arequipa region is adjacent to Chile’s Atacama Desert, where Peru’s southern neighbour capitalizes on powerful sunlight and developed energy infrastructure from its mining industry for the majority of its solar projects. While the Atacama Desert proper lies entirely within Chile, the adjoining arid region stretches out into neighbouring countries, including a northward swathe of several hundred miles along Peru’s southern coast, which includes the province of Arequipa.

Along with ten other Latin American countries, Peru signed a pledge to reach 70% renewable energy by 2030 at last year’s annual UN climate talks. Besides the renewables targets, Peru is also one of the last Latin American countries to roll out electricity to its entire population. In 2011 16% of its population were without power, and the country plans to reach 100% rural electrification by 2021, with small-scale solar installations playing a large role.

Continua Energias Positivas was founded in Spain in 2004, building the country’s largest PV project at the time in 2005. The company has recently expanded into Colombia and Peru, and participated in a Portuguese solar auction last year. In Columbia the company also has three solar plants under development, totaling 209 MW.