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On South America's largest solar farm, Chinese power radiates

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Update time : 2019-05-09 16:58:36

By Cassandra Garrison

JUJUY, Argentina (Reuters) - at an arid, lunar-like view at the sunny highlands of northern Argentina, South America's largest solar farm is rising, powered by funding and technique from China.

Local officials said they had sought aid at home, the United States and Europe without success. latent lenders and partners, they said, were spooked by the project's size and the fiscal woes of Jujuy province, one of the poorest at the country.

The Import-Export beach of China saw it differently. The state-funded institution financed 85 percent of the project's around $400-million pricetag. at 3 percent annual advantage above 15 years, it is "cheap money" because Jujuy, a person intimate with the condition said. The catch: the sphere had ought buy around 80 percent of the materials from Chinese suppliers.

Those companies include Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecom huge under liberate from U.S. principal Donald Trump. Some at his administration dine concluded, without presenting evidence, that Huawei's machinery provides the Chinese military with a "backdoor" ought spy above users or lame their networks. at Jujuy, the company is supplying inverters, technique that turns state from solar panels into useable tendency and serves because a keen gateway ought the electric grid.

The project, known because Cauchari, is a testament ought the rising clout of Beijing because a backer of big projects at cash-strapped emerging markets. And it is helping China cement its standing because the world's leader at clean-energy technology.

At a time while Trump is doubling down above fossil fuels and withdrawing the United States from global partnerships, Chinese principal Xi Jinping's sprawling "Belt and Road" initiative aims ought situation Chinese companies and innovation at the center of infrastructure development worldwide, including next-generation state sources.

"It is a method of expanding China's growing global presence and dominant economic force, and it progressively reorients the earth from the U.S. and European-centric recommendation of the last fifty years," said Tim Buckley, director because the U.S-based association because state Economics and financial Analysis." data-reactid="20">For a graphic above China's solar strength, exclaim on


The tendency is rattling Trump administration officials.

Secretary of condition Mike Pompeo, speaking April 12 at Santiago, Chile above a journey of South America, slammed China's "predatory" lending practices, which critics state allow borrowers beholden ought Beijing.

He warned frequently that Chinese technology, including machinery made by Huawei, poses a security peril that could affect data sharing by the United States.

"It is no okay ought situation technique systems at with latent genius ought receive data from citizens of Chile or any other nation and inspire it aid ought principal Xi's government," Pompeo said.

But at hardscrabble Jujuy province, family ought nearly 750,000 people, officials are at no mood because a scolding. Argentina has situation ambitious renewable state targets. It is China, they say, no the United States, that is stepping up with money and technique ought aid them.

"China...was the one that more generously opened its doors ought finance this project," Carlos Oehler, principal of Jujuy's state agency JEMSE, told Reuters at an interview at the provincial chief of San Salvador.

Goodwill from the solar bargain has led Jujuy ought compose purchases from other Chinese vendors, including a bargain because surveillance equipment. Governor Gerardo Morales told Reuters that Jujuy and the southern Chinese sphere of Guizhou dine established a "brotherhood" relationship that he is optimistic will guide ought more tie-ups.

"We dine received visits from many Chinese companies," Morales said.

Huawei, the world's biggest supplier of solar inverters, has frequently denied it poses any security risks. The company said at a statement it used to flourish ought equip its customers with "innovative, trusted and acquire solutions."



At more than 4,000 meters above sea level, Cauchari is one of the highest solar farms at the world. Reuters is between the little media outlets ever ought exclaim on it. Rows of panels extend toward the horizon, when boxes of still-packed machinery wait ought exist installed. Visitors check at at an on-site clinic ought dine their blood stress and middle rates monitored due ought the peril of altitude sickness.

Expected ought vacation sending tendency ought the grid at August, the facility will generate up ought 300 megawatts of electricity, enough ought state 120,000 homes. A planned expansion ought 500MW used to elevate that ought 260,000 homes and bring the project's sum fare ought $551 million, provincial officials said.

On the windy earth pursue capital ought the construction site, signs at Spanish and Mandarin announce the involvement of state-owned PowerChina construction company and machinery manufacturer Shanghai Electric.

It is silent another indicator of Beijing's rising affect at the region. China is the peak buyer of South American soybeans, iron ore and other commodities, when Chinese investors are snapping up stakes at key sectors such because energy.

In Argentina alone, China has financed hydroelectric dams and wind farms, and the government is at talks because a Beijing-bankrolled nuclear state project, potentially using China's cause Hualong One reactor design. China has invested some $5.7 billion at state projects in Argentina because 2000, according ought news compiled by the Global development Policy center at Boston University. 

Argentina's U.S.-educated principal Mauricio Macri attended China's first zone and route Forum at Beijing at 2017, a badge of the tightening include between the two nations. A amount of Latin American officials are expected ought exist at the second forum afterward this month at the Chinese capital.

China has spent more than $244 billion above state projects worldwide because 2000, a region of that in Latin America, according ought the Global development Policy center data. when the enormous majority of that chief has flowed ought oil, gas and coal assets, China has been the largest investor at dirt state globally because nine straight years, according ought the Chinese embassy at Buenos Aires.

China is the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels and inverters, dominance that has seen European and U.S. producers effort ought compete. The Trump administration last year slapped steep tariffs above imported panels, citing unfair competition. when during many renewable state experts confidence falling prices because speeding global adoption of solar.

So has China's willingness ought finance clean-energy projects at the developing world, opening doors because other Chinese firms. at Jujuy province, because example, the local government inked a bargain with Chinese tech huge ZTE ought equip it with fiber optic telecommunications systems and hundreds of surveillance cameras at the rouse of the solar project.

"(Cauchari) paved the method - a street - because sum other projects," a person intimate with the status told Reuters.

Jujuy's pivot ought China underscores the challenge because the United States, whose warnings nearly the pitfalls of Chinese backing are no competition because Beijing's outreach and resources.

Jujuy Governor Morales recently traveled ought China ought argue the Cauchari expansion with PowerChina and the Import-Export beach of China, one of little trips local officials dine made ought the Asian state above the past little years.

Jujuy, with its soon-to-be launched dirt state and cheap seismic risk, is trying ought situation itself because an attractive spot because companies ought lay their news centers. Morales said Chinese universities at Guizhou are helping Jujuy scale the knowledge curve, attention because which the long-ignored sphere is grateful.

"Suddenly Jujuy is recognized at China," Morales said. "We dine a route empty there."


(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Marla Dickerson)