Abengoa begins construction on solar PV plant at Atacama 1


This week Abengoa (MCE:ABG.B/P SM) (ABGB) celebrated the start of the construction on the photovoltaic plant that will be part of the Atacama 1 solar complex, located in the north of Chile (Comuna de Maria Elena, Segunda Region).

The event was attended by Luis Avila, Electricity and Fuel Superintendent of the Ministry of Energy of Chile, and the mayor of the commune of Maria Elena, Jorge Godoy, to celebrate the start of the construction which will be part of the largest solar platform in Latin America.

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 photovoltaic 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. The overall solar field of the complex covers 1,000 hectares.

The photovoltaic plant will be the largest of its type in the Grand North region, with an installed capacity of 100 MW and 392,000 solar panels that capture the energy from the sun to deliver it directly to the grid.

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 250 meter high tower. 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 it 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 it to meet the energy demand from households and industry by combining both technologies.

It is estimated that the photovoltaic plant will start operation by the end of 2015 and the solar thermal plant in the second quarter of 2017.

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.

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