Solar farm shows Andean Puna’s energy potential


The Cauchari complex has 962,496 solar panels. (Photo courtesy of Cauchari Solar)

In a corner of Argentina’s northwest province of Jujuy, some 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level, trees, water and oxygen are all in noticeably short supply. The road traversing the arid plateau, a brown-hued expanse studded with white salt flats, is largely deserted. When a vehicle does appear, llamas grazed by local indigenous inhabitants look startled. Locations like this one in the Andean Puna—a high-elevation ecoregion that extends from northwest Argentina through western Bolivia and northern Chile into southern Peru—possess some of South America’s most abundant solar-energy resources. That’s why, further down the road, a large roadside sign announces in Spanish and Mandarin the imminent startup of Cauchari Solar, one of the largest solar farms in South America. Beyond it stands the complex itself, a virtual sea of solar panels that appears to stretch to the horizon. The largely Chinese-financed, US$390 million... [Log in to read more]

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