The first thermosolar plant in Latin America is being built by the government of Sebastián Piñera in the Atacama Desert, Antofagasta (Chile). Once operational, the Cerro Dominador project is expected to generate enough energy to power 240,000 households and reduce CO2 emissions by 640,000 tons, equivalent to the amount produced by 357,000 cars.
Experts assure that this Chilean region generates a level of solar radiation seen in few places on the planet, twice as much as Dubai and much more than Morocco.
The plant is expected to begin operations before May 2020 and is being built in a remote location, approximately one hour from Calama, one of Chile’s main mining cities. Once built, this thermosolar facility and a solar photovoltaic project located within the same complex will generate electricity for the surrounding areas.
This project will add 210 megawatts of clean energy in Chile (100 MW from thermosolar and 100 MW from solar PV). This nation will host the COP25 in December and Cerro Dominador will be one of the symbols that the Piñera administration plans to show off at the summit.
— CerroDominador (@CerroDominador) 14 de noviembre de 2018
Thermosolar energy will contribute to shed dependence on coal
Chilean Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobet assures the nation is making significant efforts to shed its dependence on coal, which stood at 40% in 2018. On this basis, the government of Piñera made an agreement with mining companies to close all coal power stations by 2040. Some negotiations could even accelerate this process. This is another reason why the Cerro Dominador thermosolar project is so relevant.
Around 2,000 people are working on the construction of this plant on a site covering a surface of 1,000 hectares. The infrastructure consists of huge metallic structures that will support the 10,600 mirrors required for this project, which is 85% complete. These mirrors, called heliostats, will move according to sunlight and will later point to a 250-meter tower to produce thermosolar energy.
Construction handled by Spanish enterprises
Francisco Vizcaíno, director of Cerro Dominador, explained that in the case of solar PV energy, the panels receive sunlight and generate electricity with no control over the output. For its part, thermosolar produces energy when the market demands it, unlike other renewables like wind, which will depend on the resource availability at the moment.
The surface over which the project is being installed is public property but was leased to Energy Global Partners for 30 years. The project was financed by Energy Global Partners and the EU Laif Fund and it is in charge of the consortium formed by Acciona and Abengoa with an investment of $400 billion.
For more information, check Energía16