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Bolivia moves toward goal of being South America’s energy center

Staff Writer |
Bolivia hopes to inaugurate in two or three months the largest solar energy plant in the country, the latest phase in an ambitious plan to become the energy center of South America, President Evo Morales said.

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The president visited several energy projects at the Uyuni Salt Flat in southeast Bolivia, which with almost 10,600 hectares (26,000 acres) is the world’s largest, and at an altitude of 3,650 meters (12,000 feet), the world’s highest.

His government’s “ambitious plan aims to make Bolivia the energy center of South America,” in its role as an exporter of electric power, the president said in his speech.

Evo Morales recalled that the plant, which is scheduled to start up in March, was built by the Bolivian-Spanish consortium, Emias-Elecnor, at a cost of $62 million.

Construction is 60 percent complete, with 105 hectares of solar panels installed of the eventual 180 hectares, which will generate some 60 megawatts of electric power, half the demand of Potosi province where it is located, he said.

He said Bolivia will reach a power output of more than 2,000 megawatts, which will allow the country to “totally guarantee” the electricity supply and have a reserve of close to 500 megawatts for export.

Morales noted the prospects for exporting to neighboring countries like Brazil, where the demand for energy is growing along with the increase in population.

The plant is being built with technology from seven countries to take advantage of the solar radiation of the high Andes, following the signing in 2016 of an accord between the Bolivian government and the business consortium.

The visit that began at this installation would continue afterwards at facilities for producing potassium and lithium, the latter being a mineral of which the Uyuni Salt Flat has the largest reserves in the world, and which is in great demand for numerous technological applications.

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