SOLAR POWER STARTS TO DOMINATE THE UTILITY AUCTIONS

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31 march 2017

‘A solar Saudi Arabia’

While Trump promotes coal, Chile and others are turning to cheap sun power


Story by Nick Miroff, Washington Post, March 31, 2017

MARIA ELENA, Chile
On the solar farms of the Atacama Desert, the workers dress like astronauts. They wear bodysuits and wraparound sunglasses, with thick canvas headscarves to shield them from the radiation.

The sun is so intense and the air so dry that seemingly nothing survives. Across vast, rocky wastes blanched of color, there are no cactuses or other visible signs of life. It’s Mars, with better cellphone reception.

It is also the world’s best place to produce solar energy, with the most potent sun power on the planet.

So powerful, in fact, that something extraordinary happened last year when the Chilean government invited utility companies to bid on public contracts. Solar producers dominated the auction, offering to supply electricity at about half the cost of coal-fired plants.

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