Chile Established First Concentrated Solar Power in Latin America at 110MW with Successful Grid Connection

published: 2021-06-30 9:30 | editor: | category: News

Cerro Dominador, the first concentrated solar power (CSP) in Latin America, is completed in Chile, and has an installed capacity of 210MW when combined with the adjacent solar plants. 

Chile hopes to achieve the target of carbon neutrality by 2050, and has drafted relevant legislations to actuate the particular goal. Having the highest solar incidence in the world, Northern Chile utilizes this advantage by vigorously developing solar power, where 7% of the electricity in 2018 came from solar energy, and arrived at an installed capacity of 2,137MW, before surging to 3,104MW in July 2020. The country is currently establishing another 2,801MW. 

The park area of Cerro Dominador is also an important segment in achieving the target. This power plant is situated at the sunny Atacama Desert, with groundbreaking in 2014, and occupies 700 hectares. A 250m tall concentrating tower is surrounded by 10,600 heliostats, and the molten salt energy storage within the tower is used to generate electricity. Sitting at an installed capacity of 110MW, and 17.5 hours of energy storage, electricity is available 24/7 even without light during nighttime. 

This type of solar plants is difficult to establish as it requires a sizeable degree of technology and funds, and relies on the geographical environment. Chile currently has several CSP plants that are under development, though without concrete technical support, whereas the CSP plant in Augusta in South Australia was forfeited by US developer SolarReserve due to funding issues. 

The installed capacity of renewable energy is at 210MW in the park area of Cerro Dominador when combined with the adjacent solar plant. Cerro Dominator, the largest solar plant then, initiated groundbreaking in January 2015, and began operation in June 2016, whereas the CSP plant was completed in 2020, with grid connection and electricity generation happening this year. 

Sebastian Pinera, President of Chile, commented during the opening ceremony that this power plant is able to reduce 600K tons of carbon dioxide emission each year for the country, which is equivalent to that of 300K units of vehicles. 

The Paris Agreement in 2015 will work hard to suppress the elevated temperature on earth within 2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, and strive to reduce the figure to within 1.5°C. Chile also promised to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050. 

Pinera commented that the country will unfold additional renewable energy projects in 2021 in order to respond to the urgent challenge of climate change, as well as electrification of public transport systems, replacing traditional coal power generation with renewable energy, and afforestation plans. 

(Cover photo source: Cerro Dominador’s Twitter) 

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