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SANTIAGO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Chilean energy company E-CL said on Friday it has received the environmental green light to build an up to 300-megawatt solar plant in the country's barren, mineral-rich north.
The company, majority owned by utility GDF Suez, said certain commercial and financial conditions had to be met before it could start the up to $600 million project near the city of Arica. It did not provide a time frame.
E-Cl is one of several companies seeking to tap into the attractive solar power potential of Chile's scarcely populated Atacama, the world's driest desert.
The area is home to many of copper powerhouse Chile's massive mines, which are craving fresh energy sources amid a power squeeze that has pushed up prices.
Small-scale projects with green credentials are also seen as a safer investor bet in Chile at a time when massive coal-based and hydropower projects are facing strong opposition.
Still, experts warn that cost and efficiency issues mean many of the renewable energies that receive environmental approval in Chile don't end up seeing the light. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)