Among other results, the study carried out by researchers at the Center for Solar Energy Technologies of Fraunhofer Chile, shows that the optimal location to install a Concentrated Solar Power tower plant, due to costs and solar potential, is near the city. de Copiapó, with a LCOE -level energy cost- of 77 USD / MWh and with a plant factor of close to 80%.

Achieving decarbonization goals at the national level, efficiently and competitively, is currently one of the main challenges of the national industry. For this reason, a group of researchers from the Center for Solar Energy Technologies in Fraunhofer Chile (FCR CSET), led by the engineer Catalina Hernández Moris, developed a Map for the installation of Tower Power Solar Concentration Plants in Chile.

“Our work consisted of preparing a potential map for the installation of CSP tower plants in Chile based on the leveled cost of energy (LCOE) that includes aspects of the solar resource, technical and economic aspects, providing information that allows reducing uncertainties and thus facilitate the massification of this technology in a country with great solar resources such as Chile ”explains Catalina Hernández.

The researcher added that “in order to obtain the LCOE and evaluate the potential of installations of CSP tower plants in Chilean territory, the cost structure was examined – both investment and operating costs – which were established based on the parameters local environmental issues affecting this technology. ” The investment costs included: investment costs for a 130 MWe plant, 13 hours of storage, operating temperatures between 287 ° C and 565 ° C with dry condensation, transmission line and electrical substation costs, construction costs of roads for the road network and recurring CAPEX.

The best areas for CSP

The analysis carried out determined that the localities located between the north of the Arica and Parinacota Region to the north of the Coquimbo Region – concentrating on the valley – have great potential, showing an LCOE of less than 100 USD / MWh, being competitive with traditional thermal technology.

Likewise, the optimal location for a plant with the evaluated characteristics is in the area near Copiapó, obtaining an LCOE of 77 USD / MWh and with a plant factor of close to 80%, being competitive and a great alternative to the scenario of decarbonisation present in Chile and in the world.

Projection and offer to the industry

Catalina Hernández highlights that the value proposition of this study “is based on the identification of areas with investment potential through the leveled cost of energy (LCOE) based on the specific requirements determined by the client. Our goal is to make available to companies a preliminary pre-feasibility study to determine in which areas it is more convenient or less risky to invest in a project. The methodology has considered the lowest LCOE determined by fixed parameters that establish the investment level (CAPEX) that the client considers. For this, the current infrastructure of Chile’s national electricity system and other costs of local inputs were taken into account. ”

Finally, the engineer and author of this study emphasizes the projections of this first work. “We seek that this technology can be attractive to the national market, that they be a real contribution to reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and we believe that CSP technologies offer a great alternative to advance in that transition – due to their great flexibility in operation and dispatch capacity-, and in this sense we hope that this study will open the way for the national industry to incorporate clean energy in its processes and operations ”, he concludes.

With this study, FCR CSET seeks to collaborate with solar companies to be able to define which places are present in Chilean territory with the greatest potential for investment given their technical characteristics.