Latin America’s first CSP plant now online


From pv magazine LatAm

A consortium led by Spanish renewable-energy companies Abengoa and Acciona connected a concentrated solar power (CSP) unit to Chile's grid network on Sunday. The project is owned by U.S.-based EIG Global Energy Partners.

The system uses 10,600 mirrors (heliostats), each with a surface area of ​​140 m2, to reflect sunlight by concentrating the heat on a receiver at the top of a 250 m tower. Molten salt circulates through the receiver for 56 days, at a temperature of 560 C in the case of hot salt tanks, and 290 C in the case of cold salt tanks. It is stored in large ponds so it can be used to generate electricity via steam turbines.

The molten salt can conserve energy that is captured throughout the day for up to 17.5 extra hours, thanks to thermal storage in tanks. The project developers said that in the months ahead, the CSP plant will gradually deliver energy in stages to the grid.

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“The first phase begins with synchronization,” the consortium said. “Then we will go to the second phase, which is the calibration of the operation, where we will be making a detailed adjustment of the different systems and we will carry out the final tests of the plant.”

The project, which obtained partial financing from a program under the European Union and the German Development Bank, is being built at a cost of €1.41 billion ($1.7 billion). It will be the first solar plant in Latin America to combine CSP and PV technologies. 

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