Argentina to launch Latin America’s first solar train project

The northern Argentine province of Jujuy has obtained a $75m loan from the Latin America Development Bank (CAF) to kickstart a 300km solar-powered train line.

It would not be the first solar train in the world, but it would be the most ambitious. India launched one on a 20km track near Delhi in 2017 and Australia followed suit with a 3km coastal route in Byron Bay (pictured above). 

The idea is to reactivate a disused line running from the capital of San Salvador de Jujuy to La Quiaca, on the border with Bolivia.

Domestic and international companies are expected to bid for the project’s three stages, with Chinese companies likely to take part, according to website China Dialogue.

The first 80km phase will link the towns of Volcán and Humahuaca. A second 157km track will connect Humahuaca and La Quiaca and the final stage will extend the line south to San Salvador de Jujuy.

The town of La Quieca on the Bolivian border. Goods are moved by truck since the railway was abandoned in 1993 (Elemaki /CC BY-SA 3.0)

Trains will be fitted with solar panels on their roofs, and will also be powered by batteries that are charged at a newly built 6MW solar farm, and at stations 10km apart. The CAF loan will be used to develop this park.

Jujuy’s government intends to move forward with the project once the provincial legislature has approved the CAF loan.

Pablo Rodríguez Messina, director of the Jujuy La Quiaca executive body, told China Dialogue: "We believe the train will have approximately 230,000 users each year. We hope that in addition to the passengers, another 50,000 people will benefit from economic activities that will develop thanks to the train."

Top image: The Byron Bay solar train, seen from above (Courtesy of Byron Bay Train)

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