While most of the solar power being installed around the world currently uses photovoltaic technology, solar thermal technology offers some unique features like providing cost-competitive baseload energy akin to that from a natural gas or nuclear power plant. Chile will be one of the next countries to benefit from this power with the 450 megawatt (450) Tamarugal Solar Project in the Tarapacá region of Chile, which just received environmental approval from the country.
Chile is quickly adopting solar power. Last year, for instance, its President, Michelle Bachelet, announced the world’s first solar-powered subway system, which is being installed in Santiago. This, coupled with other solar projects will help the country get lower-cost energy to meet the country’s future energy needs.
The project will use three, 150-MW solar thermal towers, providing a combined 450 MWs of electric generation. Each unit also will have 13 hours of full load energy storage, SolarReserve said. In all, the system will have the ability to store 5.8 gigawatt-hours of energy, allowing it to provide 450 megawatts of continuous output or 2,600 gigawatt hours annually.
“What’s happening in Chile is a preview of the future of solar around the world. Even more remarkable than 24-hour a day solar, SolarReserve set a new benchmark for baseload solar pricing by bidding 63 dollars per megawatt hour, without subsidies, in Chile’s most recent auction for energy supply,” said Kevin Smith, SolarReserve CEO. “We’ve proven that solar can compete head-to-head with conventional energy on both functionality and cost.”
As such the project is competing directly with other electric generators in Chile to provide 24-hour electric production in the region. Once complete the project will participate in the country’s annual international public auction issued by the country’s power distribution companies.
“The Tamarugal project will help stabilize and lower electricity costs for Chilean families and businesses, while ensuring energy security for the country,” said Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s senior vice president of Development.
It’s the third project the company now has in the works in Chile. It’s also proposed the 390 MW Likana Solar Energy Project, which will provide power to consumers in the region and the 260 MW Copiapó project, which would provide mines and consumers in that region with low-cost solar energy. SolarReserve said the latter is shovel ready.
The company’s first completed project with energy storage capacity is the 110 MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility in Nevada. That project, completed in 2015, features 1.1 gigawatt hours of energy storage, allowing it to offer baseload power.Tweet