Alturas de Ovalle
GR Huingan SpA is a company established to develop, build, and operate a photovoltaic solar park with a capacity of 3.39 MWp in Ovalle, Province of Limarí, IV Coquimbo Region, Chile. A long-term lease has been signed to secure the project site.
The power generated by the project will be sold on the spot market through the Centro de Despacho Económico de Carga (CDEC)—a distribution center—of the Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC)—Chile’s central interconnected grid.
The total cost of the project is US$6.2 million, including the development costs; the purchase of the panels, inverters, transformers, support structures, and other minor equipment; the construction and set-up; and the interest due from the start of construction to the moment the plant reaches full production capacity. The photovoltaic plant would be connected to the SIC via a 23-kV distribution line belonging to the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza Eléctrica (CONAFE), a local power distributor, which is connected to the Ovalle electrical substation.
The purpose of this IIC operation is to provide financing to GR Huingan SpA to build, develop, and commission an unconventional renewable energy project, in support of Chile’s energy strategy.
According to the IIC Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy this is a category C project because it is likely to result in very limited adverse environmental and social impacts. The main environmental and labor considerations related to the Project are efficient resource use and pollution prevention, workplace and labor conditions, and health and safety. Alturas de Ovalle does not require an Environmental Impact Statement under Chilean law as it is a 3.0-MWn photovoltaic solar park.
The solar park site was selected based on criteria to minimize investment and, simultaneously, the impact on the environment: it is adjacent to an existing public road and there is no need to construct access roads; it is next to a medium-voltage distribution line with a connection point a few meters from the park; there are no steep gradients or slopes that would require major movements of earth.
Land use: The Project is located closed to the city of Ovalle, on land used for irrigated crops. The site is almost entirely flat and shows evidence that it was previously used for agricultural activity. Its water allocation, however, is insufficient for intensive agricultural activities and, therefore, its potential for growing crops is low. The project’s construction will not significantly impact local flora and fauna because the site has previously been modified.
Air emissions: Overall, the Project will have a positive impact on air emissions given that it will generate power from a renewable source, thus offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Most air emissions will occur during the construction phase, originating from vehicles and machinery operated by the contractors. In addition to gas emissions from internal combustion engines, vehicle traffic will generate fugitive dust emissions. Earthmoving operations are minimal as the site is virtually flat and will be limited to the excavations necessary to lay underground electrical cables.
Solid and liquid waste: Most solid and liquid waste associated with the project will be generated during the construction phase. Solid waste consists almost entirely of packaging materials from equipment to be installed at the park (plastic, wood, iron, cardboard, cables, metals, etc.). These are recycled or disposed of at the municipal dump in keeping with local regulations. Liquid waste comes mainly from workers’ toilets during the setting-up phase. Portable toilets will be provided by an independent supplier. An outside company will be contracted to clean the panels using a spray system. The water for this system will come from the site’s own water allocation.
All the transformers at the park use a forced-air cooling system, without oils, thus eliminating a possible source of dangerous waste.
Occupational health and safety: The environmental and occupational safety and health plan implemented during the construction and set-up of the solar park is based on ISO 18001 standards. This includes defining the responsibilities of each hierarchical level of the company and the contractors. In addition to the plan, there is a matrix to identify hazards and assess risks. There is also an emergency plan that designates the responsibilities along the command chain and a communications system.
Social and labor issues: The construction of the solar park will not require the relocation of people, dwellings, or economic activities. During the operational phase, there will be no need for the site to be staffed. An outside security company will be engaged to remotely monitor the park using surveillance cameras. The park will be operated remotely from the company’s offices. Every employee receives a copy of the internal regulations on order, health, and security stipulating their obligations and rights, including safety provisions that employees must obey.
Monitoring and reporting: Alturas de Ovalle will submit annual reports on its compliance with the IIC’s Environmental and Social Sustainability Policy as well as all applicable environmental and labor legislation. These reports will provide details of staff training, as well as on any accidents or incidents and the corrective actions taken.