LatAm List – Cauchari, the site where China will build Latin America’s largest solar plant in May, is located in the Argentine province of Jujuy. The project, backed by Chinese technology and funding, reflects the two countries’ close cooperation in recent years, as well as a growing tendency in Chinese companies to invest in the cross-border solar energy market.
The Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank) is financing 85% of the Cauchari project’s $390M total cost, and the remainder will be covered by the local government through a green bond.
Once completed, the plant will consist of 1.2 million solar panels and will supply a grid with 300 megawatts of power. It is expected that this will eventually expand to 500 megawatts, which will make it one of the largest solar plants in the world.
“Cauchari is in the area with the best solar radiation of the world. We also have good weather conditions and low smog, both good for the project,” said Guillermo Giralt, technical director of Cauchari Solar, one of the companies involved in the project.
The Cauchari plant is expected to cut energy costs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 325,000 tonnes. As for local impact, the government has agreed to provide indigenous communities with 2% of its annual profits for building on their land. The project will also provide locals with job opportunities at the site, ranging from catering to transportation.
“Our initial condition for the project was for it to have local workers. In order to achieve that, we trained 600 people from nearby towns and then hired them,” said Mario Pizarro, Jujuy’s energy secretary.
The cooperation between the two countries was mainly made possible due to RenovAr, a government program that provides electrical energy from renewable energy sources. However, the use of Chinese technology generates concern among national industry associations that find that these programs inhibit the use of their technology.
Read more on Buenos Aires Times.