South America’s largest solar thermal power plant to be built in Chile
The project “Cerro Dominador” will be built in the commune of Maria Elena in the Antofagasta region, northern Chile, with 10,600 mirrors arranged in a circle area of two and a half miles to shine sunlight onto a central tower 243 feet high. This project is one of Chile’s national renewable energy program, intended to provide Chile with a cleaner energy future, while also promoting its economic development and reducing its dependency on coal and natural gas. Chile has set a target to produce 20% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2025.
Chile’s Ministry of Energy and Corfo (Corporacion de Fomento de la Produccion) picked Abengoa to develop a 110 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant using tower technology with 17.5 hours of thermal energy storage using molten salts. The project will receive direct subsidies from the Chilean Government and the European Union, as well as financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Germany’s KFW Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, the Clean Technology Fund and Canadian Fund.
Solar-thermal tower technology uses a series of mirrors (heliostats) that track the sun’s movement along two axes on ground mounts. The mirrors will reflect and concentrate sunlight to a receiver in the upper portion of a central tower where the heat is transferred to the molten salts. The salts then transfer their heat in a heat exchanger to a water current to generate superheated and reheated steam. The flow of steam feeds a turbine capable of generating some 100 MW of electrical power. The solar plant will also have a pioneering thermal storage system with 17.5 hours of storage which enables to supply electricity in a stable way.
This project will also stimulate social and economic development across the Antofagasta region and cut carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by reducing reliance on coal and natural gas for power generation, thereby avoiding an estimated 643,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.