Chilean Ministry of Energy and CORFO announce company chosen to build first Concentrated Solar Power plant in Latin AmericaThe Ministry of Energy and CORFO announced the winning project of the international bidding process to build the first Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant in Latin America.
Three proposals from two CSP companies – Abengoa Solar and Solar Reserve – were evaluated during the selection process. Ultimately, the Ministry of Energy and CORFO decided to award the grant to the project “Cerro Dominador” of the Spanish energy company Abengoa Solar Chile.
The concentrated solar power plant to be built will have a capacity of 110 MW and 17.5 hours of thermal storage, which will allow it to operate with a capacity factor of over 80%. The initiative will be located in the municipality of María Elena in the Antofagasta Region, and the estimated investment will amount to approximately US$1 billion.
The plant will rely on precise technology to align its 10,600 mirrors, each with a surface area of 140 square meters, distributed within a circular area measuring approximately three and a half kilometers, in order to reflect the solar light that hits them toward the upper section of a central tower that will be 243 meters tall.
Chile’s Minister of Energy, Jorge Bunster, highlighted that having a Concentrated Solar Plant in Chile will bring multiple benefits to the country. “It will allow us to use our natural resources, diversify the energy mix of the energy grid, give us greater energy independence and allow us to reduce emissions,” he said.
Minister Bunster also noted Chile’s favorable position in terms of developing solar energy : “The North of Chile has the greatest intensities of solar radiation in the world, with clear skies during the vast majority of the year, providing us with a renewable resource that we must take full advantage of in order to make the transition toward a safer, cleaner and more cost-effective energy grid.
Likewise, CORFO Executive Vice President Hernán Cheyre emphasized the importance of promoting renewable energy projects as part of the path to innovation that Chile needs in order to take the next step in its economic development. “The Chilean government has strongly supported the development of renewable energies in Chile, so we are very pleased to be able to announce the implementation of this project, which was hatched within the framework of Chile’s Year of Innovation. Chile is a rich country in solar resources, and we must be willing to take the risk and innovate to make the most of them. With this project, we are supporting the growth of our country.”
To support the installation of the Concentrated Solar Power plant, the Ministry of Energy, operating through CORFO, will provide a grant of up to US$20 million, as well as a concession for use of government land.
Additionally, in order to create the conditions necessary for CSP technology to be viable in Chile, the Chilean government has coordinated a financing package involving the participation of the IADB, the Clean Technology Fund, the German development bank KFW and the European Union, which altogether amounts to close to US$500 million.