Spanish renewable energy company Abengoa stated that it has connected to the grid the first 62 MW of photovoltaic power generating capacity at the Cerro Dominador solar complex in northern Chile, which comprises a 100 MW PV plant, along with Latin America’s first solar thermal plant of 110 MW capacity.
The project is located in the Atacama Desert, renowned as the region with the highest concentration of solar irradiation in the world. It is owned by EIG Global Energy Partners, whereas the Spanish company has been contracted to act as EPC and to conduct operations and maintenance on the project.
Scheduled to become completely operational by the year’s end, the photovoltaic plant will comprise a total of 392,000 panels. Meanwhile, the solar thermal plant, including a 250 meter-high tower with 10,600 heliostats, covering a surface of more than 700 hectares, is expected to be completed in 2019 and feature 17.5 hours of thermal storage, enabling a 24-hour electricity supply.
This good news comes after last year’s perilous indebtedness for the Spanish clean power developer, which cast doubt on the project’s future. However, after earning a new lease of life when the company’s investors agreed to provide $ 1.3 billion of new credit lines in exchange for a 50% stake, Abengoa averted Spain’s biggest ever corporate bankruptcy and was able to restart work on the Atacama Desert plant and its other projects.
The ambitious Cerro Dominador project is part of the Chilean national program for the development of renewable energy, which aims to provide a cleaner energy future for Chile, while boosting economic development and reducing its dependence on fossil fuels. Chile aims to meet 20% of its energy demand from renewables by 2025.