On South America’s largest solar farm, Chinese power radiates
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
By Cassandra Garrison
In an arid, lunar-like landscape in the sunny highlands of northern Argentina, South America’s largest solar farm is rising, powered by funding and technology from China.
Local officials said they had sought help at home, the United States and Europe without success. Potential lenders and partners, they said, were spooked by the project’s size and the fiscal woes of Jujuy province, one of the poorest in the country.
The Import-Export Bank of China saw it differently. The state-funded institution financed 85 percent of the project’s nearly $400-million pricetag. At 3 percent annual interest over 15 years, it is “cheap money” for Jujuy, a person familiar with the terms said. The catch: the province had to purchase nearly 80 percent of the materials from Chinese suppliers.
Those companies include Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecom giant under fire from U.S. President Donald Trump. Some in his administration have concluded, without presenting evidence, that Huawei’s equipment provides the Chinese military with a “backdoor” to spy on users or cripple their networks. In Jujuy, the company is supplying inverters, technology that turns power from solar panels into useable current and serves as a critical gateway to the electrical grid.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.