South America’s largest solar park built with Chinese funding and technology has opened in Argentina with hopes of powering over 160,000 homes. Cauchari Solar Park is located atop the Puna plateau at roughly 4,020 metres above sea level, near the town of Cauchari, which borders neighbouring Bolivia and Chile.
Argentina has been aspiring to boost its renewable energy generation in the past decade, and the $390 million solar park project is part of the plan. The solar park consists of three smaller parks and has the capacity to generate approximately 100 megawatts (MW) each. Over 1.18 million solar panels have been set up, distributed across an area of 800 hectares to achieve this. Led by the Chinese company Shanghai Electric Power Construction, the project got 85% of its funding from the Export-Import Bank of China, with the local government providing the balance 15%.
According to President Mauricio Macri, Cauchari has helped to create 1,200 jobs for local residents and indigenous people. He reiterated via a video call at the inauguration ceremony of the solar park that the park was just a taste of what the locals could offer to the rest of the country. He added that this was just the beginning and that Jujuy’s solar energy generating capacity could be expanded multiple folds.
The inauguration ceremony also saw the presence of Argentina’s Chief of Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Pena, Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, and Secretary of Energy Gustavo Lopetegui. Pena highlighted that the Sino-Argentine initiative proved that it could contribute to the diversification of the energy matrix, produce electricity, while also generate jobs. Meanwhile, project officials confirmed that the photovoltaic plant would cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 325,000 tons.