The Atacama Desert – the sunniest place on earth. Since July, the sun plays an even more important role: A 23 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system produces solar electricity for the prestigious hotel, Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, situated in San Pedro de Atacama. The turnkey off-grid system, which supplies the hotel with up to 50 percent of its electricity, was planned, designed and built by the Chilean branch of Kraftwerk Renewable Power Solutions GmbH headquartered in Weingarten, Germany.
What makes this system so unique: It’s an island-hybrid system without battery. The total capacity within the first phase is 23kW peak power. Three high-performance three-phase string inverters from the Platinum R3 series ensure excellent returns of 98.6 percent peak efficiency. 96 solar modules feed the hotel with 46,000 kilowatt hours annually. Measurement results during the first few weeks showed above-average returns. "We expect an annual yield of well over 2,000 kilowatt hours per kilowatt peak," says Hans Hall, Managing Director of Kraftwerk. As according to plan, only one of the two diesel generators now runs during the day.
The heart of the system is an intelligent control unit- the PLATINUM® HybridControl- which controls both generators, the diesel generator and the PV system, to ensure that they work side by side. Thanks to the control unit, the share of solar energy in the planned second stage will increase significantly. "With our new development we offer even smaller off-grid power supply systems a fast and cost feasible solution to reduce the use of fossil fuels by means of photovoltaic. Energy and maintenance costs, CO? emission, noise and exhaust is reduced significantly and sustainably", states Dr. Cornelius Wolf, CEO of Platinum GmbH.
Miguel Purcell, General Manager of Tierra Hotels is more than pleased with the results, "We are very excited with the results of this solar project which supports our commitment to the environment. The innovation of this hybrid system has been a tremendous advance in our development and we hope to continue developing solar projects hand in hand with Kraftwerk, who give us the confidence to invest in sustainable technologies". It was also important to the hotel management that, in addition to saving diesel fuel, the PV system was discreetly installed into the overall appearance of the high-class holiday resort.
Kraftwerk takes its commitment to social responsibility very seriously. The project was supported by two Latin American social institutions: The Chilean Fundación Cristo Vive, and the Argentinian Fundación Centro de Capacitación Fernandez, both of which serve as training centers for young people from deprived backgrounds. Several young apprentices from both institutions were involved in the construction of the plant. Know-how is transferred to local partners which in turn creates a network of local suppliers and skilled workers.
Kraftwerk Renewable Power Solutions also specializes in PV systems for agriculture and implemented an innovative solar solution for one of the largest fruit exporters in Chile. "We developed an irrigation system that "follows the sun". More than 90% of the generated solar power can be used directly for irrigation. Agricultural companies can therefore become independent from rising electricity prices," said Dr. Karsten Schulte, Managing Director of Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk’s activities in the off-grid segment will also be extended to mines, observatories and small villages.