Mainstream’s first solar farm in Latin America, Río Escondido, has been successfully connected to its transmission network, making it ready to feed the grid once its final panels have been installed.
The first power flowed from a new substation on the northern Chile site, along transmission lines across the Atacama desert, to an interconnection bay at Cardones substation, 55.5km away, just under a year after the PV project entered construction.
The energisation means that when Río Escondido is completed, the 145 MW AC generated by its 450,000 solar panels can be stepped up in voltage and injected into the country’s National Electricity System. It will provide enough energy to power 194,000 homes and displace approximately 185,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
The transmission line linking the substations, built out by contractor Transelec, will also be used by Mainstream’s neighbouring Valle Escondido Solar PV plant, which is currently under construction near the commune of Tierra Amarilla.
Juan Pablo Toledo, Head of Development & Construction Management in Chile, explained: “With the energisation of the step-up substation, the interconnection bay and the transmission line, the company has achieved a significant milestone in the construction of their first PV solar farm in Chile.
“The Atacama region has extremely high levels of radiation, which will play an important role in achieving a sustainable economic recovery and thanks to our construction teams, this energy will be supplied to homes and companies throughout the country.”
Río Escondido is one of four wind and solar projects that have been developed by Mainstream and are on course to enter commercial operations in 2021.
The 571 MW Cóndor portfolio, which also includes Tchamma and Cerro Tigre wind farms to the north in Antofagasta, and Alena Wind farm in the southern Biobío region, is the first phase of Andes Renovables, a US$1.8bn investment that will deliver sustainable Energy for over 1,725,000 Chilean homes and help the country achieve its decarbonisation goals.