Independent solar power producer Sonnedix Power Holdings has commenced construction on the 171MW solar PV plant, named Sonnedix Atacama Solar, in Chile.

Located in the Pica district of the Atacama Desert in Chile, the $180m (£149.5m) project will become the second-largest of its kind in the country.

The Atacama Solar PV plant will have the capacity to generate approximately 470GWh of clean electricity annually — enough to supply more than 100,000 homes.

Based on International Energy Agency methodology and emissions factor for Chile, the plant will help avoid CO2 emissions of around 200,000 metric tonnes per year when compared with thermal generation.

Sonnedix chairman Carlos Guinand said: “Sonnedix Atacama Solar will help support Chile’s commitment to use 100% renewable energy by 2040.

“The start of construction of Sonnedix Atacama Solar marks an important day for Sonnedix and the beginning of a long-term commitment and partnership with the Tarapacá region and the local communities of Pica and Pozo Almonte.”

Atacama Solar PV plant set for commissioning in December 2020

Scheduled to be commissioned in December 2020, the solar plant is expected to create around 400 direct jobs during the construction phase.

Tarapacá regional mayor Miguel Angel Quezada said: “In 2017 we had 20% clean energy in the region; in 2018 this increased to 40%. Today we are at 65%, and by the end of the year, we will reach 83% of clean energy in our regional energy production mix.”

Chile Ministry of Energy project manager Iván Cheuquelaf said: “The start of the construction of the Sonnedix Atacama Solar photovoltaic plant not only represents an important milestone for the municipality of Pica and for the entire Tarapacá region, but also allows us to continue tilting the balance towards the participation of renewable energies.”

Earlier this year, Sonnedix acquired a 53MW portfolio of 28 solar plants from Italian energy company Graziella Green Power.

This includes a mix of ground and roof-mounted plants located in the Toscana, Umbria, Sardegna and Basilicata regions of Italy.