Restart of innovative mega-solar project "Cerro Dominador" in Chile

Thursday, August 2, 2018

This press release from Chile's Ministry of Energy was published using an automatic translation system.

In the historic saltpeter commune of María Elena, in the Region of Antofagasta, and in the area with the best solar radiation in the world as a scenario, the energy minister, Susana Jiménez, participated in the ceremony to activate the last stage of construction of the power concentrating solar power plant (CSP) "Cerro Dominador", thus materializing the EIG Global Energy Partners project.

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The initiative will require a total investment of US $ 1,400 million, and considers the development of two combined plants: a solar concentration of power that will generate 110 MW, and a photovoltaic plant that will produce 100 MW. That is, 210 MW of energy that will be injected into the National Electric System, and with the advantage of doing so 24 hours a day.

Located 59.4 kilometers from Calama, Cerro Dominador will become the first concentrated solar power plant in Latin America. This, thanks to its 10,600 heliostats and 392 thousand solar panels spread over 700 hectares. The project has more than 60% progress in its construction, more than 75% of the purchases are already made and it is estimated that in 2020 it will begin to operate.

The thermosolar plant will help reduce CO2 emissions to the atmosphere of approximately 643,000 t CO2 per year, equivalent to the emissions of 357,000 vehicles circulating during a year.

Minister Jiménez: "As a government, we want to massively promote renewable energies"

"This initiative, which has its genesis in the first government of President Piñera, stands out for its innovation and change of paradigm with respect to what has existed up to now in renewable energy in our country, because it is coupled with storage, which allows transforming solar energy in a base supply for electricity generation, providing not only clean energy to the National Electric System, but also greater flexibility to the energy matrix, "said Energy Minister Susana Jiménez.

The authority added that as President Sebastián Piñera maintains, "Chile is a country that is poor in the energies of the past, like fossil fuels, but very rich in clean and renewable energies of the present and the future, such as the sun, the wind and Our duty as a government, then, is to develop the natural potential of our country to generate a sustainable and integral development that improves the quality of life of our compatriots, which is why we want to massively promote renewable energies that have important benefits in economic matters, competitiveness, security and efficiency ".

The Head of Energy stressed that the project will require the hiring of 1,000 people for its execution and contracting of external services, which contributes to the growth and economic dynamism of the Antofagasta Region.

The mayor of the Region of Antofagasta, Marco Díaz, the mayor of María Elena, Omar Norambuena, the energy seremi, Aldo Erazo, and the CEO of the company Cerro Dominador, Fernando González, among other assistants also participated in the activity.

Investment and construction

The financing for this last stage amounts to US $ 758 million, which was obtained after the signing between EIG and a group of international financial institutions and the contribution of local banks. Among the financial entities involved are: Natixis, Deutsche Bank, Société Générale, ABN AMRO, Santander, Commerzbank and BTG Pactual, as well as other institutional investors.

The construction of the thermosolar plant -which takes place on National Properties land under the concession system for renewable energies- is in charge of the Acciona and Abengoa companies, and it is expected to enter into operation during the second semester of 2019.

Inauguration in Sierra Gorda

The second activity of Minister Susana Jiménez in the Antofagasta Region was held in the municipality of Sierra Gorda.

During the afternoon, the Secretary of State arrived at the Estación Baquedano G-130 School -which has an enrollment of 163 students- to inaugurate the photovoltaic panels installed in the roof of the educational establishment.

The initiative executed by the Ministry of Energy in one of the communes that has the best solar radiation in the country, is part of the Energy Route 2018-2022: Leading the modernization with citizen seal.

"One of the Mega Commitments of ours to Energy Route seeks to reach four times the current capacity of distributed small-scale renewable generation, because as a government we are aware that we must take advantage of the most abundant resource that Chile has, the sun, and we reaffirm this way, our commitment to the installation of renewable sources for the generation of energy, "said Minister Jiménez.

The project provided the establishment with 40 solar panels that reach a power of 10kWp, which saves 1 million 124 thousand pesos a year in the electricity bill and generates about 30% of the energy required by the school annually, thus allowing contribute to the environment with the reduction of 11 tons of CO2 per year.