Yingli Solar recently announced it has opened an office in Santiago, Chile, looking to expand further into the Latin American market.
Robert Muhn, formerly of Trina Solar, is the new Managing Director of Yingli’s Chile operations. Muhn is now responsible for attracting primarily utility-scale solar projects.
With 25 MW of Chilean projects ongoing, Yingli Solar has strategically set up shop there. It hopes to take advantage of Chile going beyond hydroelectricity as its main energy source (at 33%).
“Chile is a high-potential solar market and home to some of the strongest solar irradiation in the world, particularly in the Atacama Desert,” said Muhn in a statement.
“While we see tremendous growth potential in Chile’s utility-scale market, we also anticipate that the country’s relatively high electricity prices and strong solar resources will provide a foundation for a thriving and sustainable distributed generation market in the future.”
Chile has large areas of desert with high amounts of solar radiation. It makes sense for Yingli Solar to seek large-scale solar energy projects, including in the Atacama desert. This is Chile provided a great analysis of Chile’s high solar irradiance in 2012:
Chile’s capacity for solar energy is immense, as the Atacama Desert in the north of the country has optimal conditions for generating solar energy, with high radiation, low humidity, and almost zero cloud cover year round. The Atacama receives more solar irradiance per square meter than anywhere else in the world, including the African Sahara, the Arabian Desert, and Australia’s Great Sandy Desert.
In fact, the Desert’s solar potential is so great that a report published last year by the Global Energy Network Institute concluded that the entire country’s energy needs could be generated by harnessing the solar irradiance in just 18.25 square miles (47.27 km²) – or a 9,454 football fields – of the Atacama.
In recent years, investors are paying more attention to Latin America to diversify their growth beyond China and the US. Yingli Solar helped provide solar panels to Itaipava Arena Pernambuco, a 2014 FIFA World Cup venue, and was also sponsor of the soccer tournament, the largest sporting event in the world. Meanwhile, SunEdison recently built Chile’s largest solar power plant, which is in the Atacama Desert and sits at 100 MW.
With Latin America expected to add 700 MW of solar power this year according to GTM Research, and Chile having some of the best solar irradiation on Earth, Yingli Solar is in a strong place to see firm growth in this region.