SolarReserve says solar tower and storage plant will compete with coal on reliability and cost to power Chile’s huge mining sector.
The Chile government has given environmental approval for a solar tower and storage plant that would deliver 260MW of base load power to the country’s grid.
US company SolarReserve, which is putting the finishing touches to its first 110MW solar tower and storage plant in Nevada, expects the new plant at the Copiapó Solar Project will begin commercial operation in 2019.
“It will deliver 260 megawatts (MW) of reliable, clean, non-intermittent baseload power 24 hours a day to consumers of the central interconnected system (SIC),” the company said.
The project technology is based on SolarReserve’s successful Crescent Dunes project in the U.S., which is complete with construction and is currently in final commissioning.
However, the Copiapó project, located in the sun-rich Atacama Region, will add solar PV to the concentrating solar power (CSP) tower technology with molten salt thermal energy storage.
The hybrid concept will deliver more than 1,800 gigawatt hours annually, while providing a highly competitive price of power, mostly to mining companies that operate in the region.
CEO Kevin Smith said the plant would operate at a capacity factor and availability percentage equal to that of a coal fired power plant.
“No other proven renewable energy technology can provide this cost competitive energy solution to meet the needs of Chile’s largest and most important industries,” he said in a statement.
“Our proprietary solar energy storage technology provides a viable and cost competitive alternative to fossil-based electricity generation, with the potential to meaningfully reduce reliance on fossil fuels and associated carbon pollution that is contributing to climate change.
“This technology realistically has the potential to power the entire country of Chile using two phenomenal Chilean resources, salt and sun.”
SolarReserve’s 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant in Nevada is the world’s first utility-scale solar thermal facility to feature advanced molten salt power tower energy storage capabilities. It includes 10 hours of full-load energy storage and will supply power to Las Vegas until midnight to meet peak demand needs.
It is also building the 100MW Redstone project in South ASfrica, which will have 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200,000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set.
SolarReserve has also made a submission to the ACT government’s next generation storage tender in Australia. The ACT government is looking to commission up to 50MW of solar plus storage capacity, but has been inundated with offers from a variety of technologies and project developers.
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