Bolivia’s largest solar plant comes on line

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The 100MW Oruro solar plant in the Bolivian Andes is ready to enter commercial operation with the inauguration of the second phase.

The first 50MW phase was delivered in September 2019. With the completion of the second phase, the plant is able to cover the full electricity demand of the Oruro department with its approximately 0.5 million population.

The plant is located in the Ancotanga community in the municipality of Caracollo, a small town about 50km to the north of Oruro city at an altitude of about 3,735m

“This high plateau soil is strong enough to generate the energy that Bolivians need, turning Oruro into an electricity generating department with the capacity to currently inject 100MW into the national interconnected system,” said minister of hydrocarbons and energy, Franklin Molina Ortiz, at the inauguration.

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“The solar plant is ready to enter into commercial operation, thereby increasing the availability of electricity throughout the country.”

Bolivia is considered to have great potential for green energy production, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass.

Hydro currently makes up the majority, contributing over a quarter of generation in 2018, according to IRENA data.

Bolivia’s next largest solar plant is located in Uyuni, Potosí in the southwest of the country with 60MW capacity and others of smaller capacity, around 5MW, are installed in Pando and Beni in the north and Tarija in the south.

“The reconstruction of our electricity sector is in process and we will not stop, we are working to provide the country with the best possible infrastructure, so that Bolivians can improve our quality of life,” concluded Molina.

The project required a total investment of US$108 million and covers an area of 208ha. Funds were provided by the French Development Agency, the EU, Central Bank of Bolivia and the state owned power corporation Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (ENDE).