Last year, the nation of Chile pledged to supply 70% of the country’s power through renewable sources by 2050. The Paris Agreement signatory recently announced that they are taking one of the first major steps towards that goal by planning to power Metro de Santiago with mostly renewable energy.
Metro de Santiago, the public transportation system of Chile’s capital, will cover up to 60% of its energy needs through renewable sources. Metro de Santiago intends to serve its 2.2 million daily passengers through a combination of solar and wind energy.
The solar power will be provided through the upcoming El Pelícano Solar Project, a 100-watt megawatt solar plant. According to a press release, the "Metro of Santiago will become the first public transportation system in the world to run mostly on solar energy."
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet made the formal announcement in front of a future station for Line 6, a railway line expected to open later this year. She was joined by the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Andrés Gómez-Lob, Minister of Energy Maximo Pacheco, and Minister of Environment Paul Badenier.
In her speech, Bachelet stressed the importance of providing safe, reliable public transportation while simultaneously reducing the nation’s carbon footprint and ensuring a sustainable future.
According to a promotional video relasted by Metro de Santiago, the project will be fully operational in 2018 and will reduce CO2 emisssions by 120 million tons annually.
Because of its prime position on the planet, Chile has high potential to meet its energy needs through solar energy. Much of the nation, particularly the northern region, receives scorching levels of solar radiation. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, “The Atacama Desert in Northern Chile is widely considered the world’s best solar resource.”
The project will be constructed by the US-based company SunPower and majority owned by the French-based oil company Total. Once it is operational, SunPower will provide operations and maintenance. It will be built with SunPower Oasis, a modular, large-scale solar system designed to minimize development time, cut maintenance costs, and reduce output degradation.
"SunPower is proud to serve Metro of Santiago's growing energy demand with cost-competitive, renewable solar power," said Eduardo Medina, SunPower’s executive vice president of global power plants. "Solar is an ideal energy source for Chile because of the country's high solar resource and transparent energy policies. In partnership with Total, SunPower is committed to the continued growth of our business in Chile."