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Mainstream moves forward on 245MW Chile solar project

The company already has a portfolio of more than 20 solar and wind projects in various stages of development in the country.

Mainstream Renewable Power has received approval from Chile via an environmental assessment that will allow the emerging markets developer to begin building a 245MW solar project.

Construction can now begin on the Escondido Solar facility, one of the largest approved projects in Chile’s northern Atacama region, representing around a $290 million investment for Mainstream. The project will be located 58 kilometres from the city of Copiapó and will connected to the grid through a transmission line from a substation inside the project site.

Chile has been a high priority for Mainstream’s development activity since 2008 and has built a portfolio of more than 20 solar and wind projects in various stages of development. It won big last August when the South American country announced winners in the country’s latest energy auction, winning seven contracts to build 985MW of wind projects over the next five years.

Mainstream said these deals amount to $1.65 billion worth of investments.

For the Escondido project, the location was important, said Mainstream’s general manager in Chile, Bart Doyle. “The north of the country benefits from some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world, and Chile has yet to properly promote and develop its solar energy resource.”

In November, Mainstream shook up how it develops and finances projects with the launch of an internal investment division, Mainstream Renewable Capital. The new investment arm is aiming to raise $840 million of equity and debt over the next 18 months to finance wind and solar projects in Chile, South Africa and Vietnam.