Spanish group Abengoa broke ground on the construction of a 100 MW photovoltaic plant that will be part of the 210 MW Atacama 1 solar complex in northern Chile.
Located in Comuna de María Elena in the Atacama Desert, the region with the highest level of solar radiation in the world, Atacama 1 will feature the first solar thermal plant in Latin America, with 110 MW of installed capacity and 17.5 hours of thermal storage, which will complement the 100 MW PV plant. The complex's overall solar field will cover 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres).
According to Abengoa, the PV plant will be the largest of its type in Chile's Grand North region, with 392,000 solar panels to capture solar energy and 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.
The plant will also feature a thermal storage system with molten salts to allow stable delivery of energy 24 hours a day.
Abengoa expects the PV plant to begin operation by the end of 2015 and the solar thermal plant in the second quarter of 2017.
Abengoa, which has carried out numerous projects in diverse sectors, including mining and electricity, since 1987, said the new plant would 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.
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