Argentina is expected to sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) later in January for the 300-MW Cauchari solar projects, to be developed in the northern province of Jujuy.
The provincial government and China’s Export-Import Bank are also anticipated to reach financial close on the project during the coming weeks, according to local reports.
The province will own a stake of at least 51% in the project, as a condition of local regulations governing that it holds half the equity in all renewables projects.
Panels for the project – also referred to as Parque Solar de la Puna – will be supplied by Shanghai Electric and is slated to become operational by the middle of 2018.
The Chinese utility, along with its compatriot PowerChina, had originally been expected to buy shares in the project but, despite negotiations between the government and Chinese representatives, no deal came to fruition.
Last October, the provincial government said it had been awarded permits for three solar plants – known as Cauchari 1, 2 and 3 – at the country’s first national renewable energy tender. The project was proposed by Jujuy Energy and Mining State Society, through which the local government will own its stake in the project.
The plants, each with a capacity of 100 MW, would attract US$340 million in investment, the provincial government said at the time. Of that, 80% is anticipated to come from the state and the rest from private sources.
Power China and Shanghai Electric, as well as another Chinese firm, Talseun, were initially invited to invest in the project. China’s ICBC also reportedly took part in funding negotiations with government officials last year.
Last year, Argentine President Mauricio Macri said that up to 3 GW of new solar power would be built in the Puna region of northern Argentina in the coming years.
The investment will reportedly be supported by the government under the renewables promotion scheme known as ‘Belgrano’, which will benefit 10 provinces in northern Argentina.
The aim is for the northern region of Jujuy to have 8% of its power deriving from renewables by 2017. This is projected to climb to 70% over a period of eight or nine years.