A 110MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant has entered operation in Chile this week, after the EIG-owned Cerro Dominador successfully synchronised the project with the Chilean National Electricity System.
The Cerro Dominador solar complex now consists of the 110MW CSP plant and a contiguous 100MW solar PV plant that has been in operation since 2017 in the heart of Chile’s Atacama Desert, the driest in the world and one of the most attractive locations in the world for solar generation.
The newly commissioned CSP plant uses collectors on top of towers to heat molten salt, which is then stored in large tanks that can be used to generate electricity through a steam turbine. A similar plant had been approved for South Australia, but abandoned when it failed to secure finance.
The molten salt reserves can store up to 17.5 hours of energy storage, thus guaranteeing the production of 100% renewable electricity 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Now with both solar PV and CSP projects up and running, the Cerro Dominador solar complex can offset approximately 640,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year and generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 380,000 homes.
“We are proud to support this groundbreaking project, which will provide the Chilean national grid with flexible, safe and reliable renewable energy and contribute meaningfully to reducing CO2 emissions in Chile,” said R. Blair Thomas, the chairman and CEO of EIG.
“The project is … helping to lay the groundwork for a low carbon future through the production of clean, reliable and cost-effective energy. We are committed to continued investment in future CSP projects in Chile and other parts of the world.”
The project was built by a consortium formed by Spanish green infrastructure firm Abengoa and Spanish renewables company Acciona, which was awarded the contract in 2018.
The solar field stretches for more than 700 hectares, and has 10,600 heliostats that direct solar radiation to a receiver located 252 meters high.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet as he never learned to drive and his learner’s permit ran out. reneweconomy.com.au