The Argentine government inaugurated a solar park built with Chinese funding and technology, with an eye to illuminating more than 160,000 homes.
Cauchari Solar Park, located atop a remote mountain peak 4,000 meters above sea level, was opened Tuesday near Cauchari, a town in the province of Jujuy, which borders neighboring Chile and Bolivia.
The 390-million-U.S.-dollar project is led by Chinese company Shanghai Electric Power Construction and 85 percent funded by the Export-Import Bank of China. The local government provided the remaining 15 percent of the funds.
The solar park "is just a taste of what the locals can offer to the rest of the country," said Argentine President Mauricio Macri via a video call at the inauguration ceremony. "It is just the beginning, because Jujuy's solar energy generating capacity is almost infinite."
Cauchari Solar Park, the largest of its kind in South America, consists of three smaller parks with a generating capacity of 100 megawatts each. It has more than 1.18 million solar panels distributed across an area of 800 hectares.
The photovoltaic plant will cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 325,000 tons, project officials told Xinhua.
The inauguration ceremony marked the completion and trial run of two of the solar parks, namely Cauchari II and III. The remaining solar park, Cauchari I, is 75 percent complete.
Cauchari Solar Park, already in the expansion process, has helped create 1,200 jobs for local residents and indigenous people, said Macri.
The inauguration ceremony also saw the presence of Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, Argentina's Chief of Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Pena and Secretary of Energy Gustavo Lopetegui.
Pena said the Sino-Argentine initiative shows that "not only is it possible to contribute to the diversification of the energy matrix, but also to generate jobs and produce electricity in places where it was not being done before."