With the first solar thermal power plant in Latin America, Chile hopes to begin to alleviate its energy crisis, which threatens to further drive up the high cost of electricity and to hinder the growth of investment, especially in the mining industry.
“We have a structural problem, which is that energy in Chile is very costly, and this not only represents a hurdle for economic growth but also hurts the poor,” government spokesman Álvaro Elizalde told Tierramérica.
This means, he added, “that we have to simultaneously increase the energy supply to bring down prices while promoting non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE) sources.”
The Spanish company Abengoa Solar, which has been operating in Chile since 1987, won the public tender in January to develop a solar tower plant with 110 MW capacity and 17.5 hours of thermal energy storage in molten salt.
The Concentración Solar de Potencia de Cerro Dominador plant, which began to be built in May by the company’s local subsidiary, Abengoa Solar Chile, is to come online in 2017 and will have a useful life of 30 years.