Renewable energy company Abengoa has started construction of a solar photovoltaic plant located in the north of Chile.
The project is based in the Atacama Desert, the region with the highest level of solar radiation in the world. The Atacama 1 solar complex will feature a photovoltaic plant with a capacity of 100 megawatts and the first solar thermal plant in Latin America, with 110 MW of installed capacity and 17.5 hours of thermal storage. The overall solar field of the complex covers 1,000 hectares.
The solar thermal electric plant, in construction since 2014, 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 start operation by the end of 2015 and the solar thermal plant in the second quarter of 2017. It will also feature a thermal storage system with molten salts that will permit to deliver stable energy 24 hours a day. The platform will prevent the emission of around 870,000 tons of CO2 annually and will allow to meet the energy demand from households and industry by combining both technologies.