Abengoa's 210 MW Chile solar hybrid complex approved


Spanish renewable company Abengoa has been granted permission from Chile’s environmental licensing authority Servicio de evaluacion ambiental (SEA) to build its Atacama 2 solar hybrid project in the Chilean desert.

The $1.2 billion, 210 MW project will comprise 100 MW of solar PV and 110 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP), with the latter portion of the plant equipped with storage capacity of 15 hours, ensuring a 24-hour power supply.

The project will be Abengoa’s second CSP/PV hybrid plant in Chile, having already begun construction on the Atacama 1 project, also in the Atacama desert region.

Atacama 2 will be located in the sun-drenched northern region of Antofagasta, and will help meet Chile’s growing thirst for clean solar energy – a market that has boomed in the past 24 months, growing from a little under 13 MW in 2013 to more than 500 MW currently. The country is predicted to add around 770 MW of solar PV capacity this year alone, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), while Abengoa alone is on course to develop more than 400 MW of CSP capacity in the country in 2015.

The Chilean government is eager to support this solar development as well as possible, and has outlined a goal of 20% renewable energy in the power generation mix by 2025. Currently, Chile is ahead of schedule, and continues to attract many of the world’s leading solar developers to its sunny northern reaches, including U.S. solar developers SunEdison and First Solar.

The Atacama region is becoming one of the world’s solar power hotspots. In May alone, a 97 MW PV plant – the Carrera Pinto park – has begun construction in the desert, while HydroChile S.A. last week outlined plans to build a $158 million, 90 MW PV plant nearby.