Chile has inaugurated Latin America’s first thermal solar plant, Cerro Dominador in the Atacama desert in the north of the country. This will give a boost to Chile’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
The 110 MW plant covers an area of 700 hectares, with 10 600 mirrors surrounding a 250m tall tower topped with a receiver. Molten salts in the receiver absorb the heat and then use a steam turbine to generate electricity. Combined with an adjacent photovoltaic plant, the Cerro Dominador complex can generate 210 MW.
The salts can store energy for up to 17.5 hours, allowing the system to operate continuously.
Sebastian Pinera, President of Chile, said: “It will allow us to save more than 600 000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.”
Construction of the Cerro Dominador project started in 2014. Pinera said Chile would inaugurate more clean energy projects in 2021 than in all its previous history to meet the urgent challenge of climate change.