Abengoa, the international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environment sectors, celebrated the start of the construction of the PV plant that will be part of Atacama 1 solar complex, located in the north of Chile. When completely constructed, the complex will have a total of 210 MW of Solar PV & thermal capacity, marking it the largest solar power platform in Latin America.
The celebration event was attended by Luis Avila, Electricity and Fuel Superintendent of the Ministry of Energy of Chile, and the mayor of the commune of María Elena, Jorge Godoy.
The project is based in the Atacama Desert, the region with the highest level of solar radiation in the world. Atacama 1 will feature a PV plant with a capacity of 100 MW and the first solar thermal plant in Latin America, with 110 MW of installed capacity and 17.5 hours of thermal storage. It is estimated that the PV plant will start operation by the end of 2015 and the solar thermal plant in the second quarter of 2017.
The overall solar field of the complex covers 1,000 hectares. The PV plant, consisting of 392,000 solar panels, will be the largest of its type in the Grand North region and the energy generated from the sun will be delivered directly to the grid.
The solar thermal electric plant, in construction since 2014, it will have 10,600 heliostats and the solar field will cover approximately 700 hectares. Heliostats concentrate solar radiation onto a receiver located at the top of a tower with 250 meters. Radiation coming from the sun is used to heat molten salts. The molten salts create the steam necessary to power a turbine of 110 MW, which generates clean electricity. The plant will also feature a thermal storage system with molten salts that will permit to deliver stable energy 24 hours a day.
Abengoa has been present in Chile since 1987, where it has carried out numerous projects for companies in different sectors, including mining, electricity, communications and industrial sector companies. This new plant will further consolidate its technological commitment to solar thermal electric power and innovation.
Abengoa currently has 1,503 MW of installed capacity in commercial operation, 360 MW under construction and 210 MW in development and it is the only company in the world to construct and operate solar thermal electric plants using both tower and parabolic trough technologies.