Chile President Michelle Bachelet announcing the contract with Total and SunPower to provide solar power for Metro de Santiago, the world's first metro to run on solar. Photo: SunPower

Chile President Michelle Bachelet announcing the contract with Total and SunPower to provide solar power for Metro de Santiago, the world's first metro to run on solar. Photo: SunPower

Santiago, Chile's Metro will become the first public transportation system in the world to run mostly on solar energy. Total and SunPower Corp. announced Thursday SunPower has signed a power purchase agreement for the supply of 300-gigawatt hours per year of clean solar energy to the subway system, which currently serves 2.2 million passengers per day.

The power will be generated from the El Pelícano Solar Project, a 100-megawatt (AC) project near the municipalities of La Higuera (Coquimbo Region) and Vallenar (Atacama Region). Construction of the solar power plant will begin this year, with expected operation by the end of 2017.

SunPower, a global solar technology company and an affiliate of Total, will design and build the project and provide operations and maintenance once it is operational. The company will construct a SunPower® Oasis® power plant system at the site. The Oasis system is a fully-integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered for rapid and cost-effective deployment of utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. The technology includes robotic solar panel cleaning capability that uses 75% less water than traditional cleaning methods and can help improve system performance by up to 15%.

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