Press Release

Colbún inaugurates Diego de Almagro Sur solar and battery park in Atacama and prepares storage initiatives for more than 800 MW

Bnamericas Published: Monday, November 28, 2022
Colbún inaugurates Diego de Almagro Sur solar and battery park in Atacama and prepares storage initiatives for more than 800 MW

This is an automated translation of the original Colbún release published in Spanish.

In an area of 330 hectares, 27 km from the town of Diego de Almagro in the Atacama Region, is located the Diego de Almagro Sur (DAS) solar park, inaugurated today by the company Colbún, with the presence of the chairman of its Board of Directors, Hernán Rodríguez; its CEO, José Ignacio Escobar; Presidential Delegate (acting) for the Atacama Region, Jorge Fernández; the Seremi de Energy, Cecilia Sánchez; and the mayor of the district, Mario Araya, among other authorities and representatives of companies, clients, unions and communities. In addition, the ceremony had the telematic participation of the Minister of Energy, Diego Pardow.

With 470,000 panels and an installed capacity of 230 MW, equivalent to the consumption of about 316,000 people or 110,000 homes, Diego de Almagro Sur is currently the largest solar park in commercial operation in the Atacama Region. "With the start-up of this project, which has an average annual generation capacity of approximately 648 GWh, we are helping to consolidate Atacama's position as the capital of solar energy in Chile," said the president of the company, Hernán Rodríguez.

Through a video, the Minister of Energy, Diego Pardow, pointed out that "in the government of President Gabriel Boric we are committed to accelerating the goal of decarbonizing our energy matrix and to meet this objective we cannot continue to discard the energy we produce with the sun and with the wind.The Diego de Almagro Sur Photovoltaic Plant also has a storage battery system that allows it a capacity of 8 MW. This is a differentiating element for plants of this type. With this system, the energy supply can last for up to four hours, injecting up to 32 MW per hour of energy. The development of a project like Diego de Almagro Sur is essential, not only because of what it will inject into the National Electric System in material terms, but also because of what it means as a symbol of our energetic matrix.”

The Diego de Almagro Sur operation will prevent the emission of almost 253,000 tons of CO2 per year, which would be equivalent to removing more than 67,000 cars from circulation annually.

This initiative also has the particularity of being Colbún's first industrial-scale storage project and marks the debut of this type of technology in the Atacama Region. The Diego de Almagro Sur storage system considers 24 batteries, with the capacity to generate up to 8 MW for 4 hours of electricity supply, that is, 32 MWh. “Storage is an essential enabling condition for the energy transition. It will be the cornerstone to provide security to a national electrical system with a growing presence of renewable energies, allowing to reduce the discharge of solar or wind energy that is produced today,” stated the president of the company.

During the inauguration, Rodríguez emphasized the different conditions that the electrical system requires to continue advancing in the energy transition. "We need to go deeper into the regulatory measures, the institutional designs, planning and operation criteria, and approval and permit processes that allow us to move faster in the construction of a more sustainable electrical system without renouncing its security and competitiveness."

Role of storage and new initiatives

The CEO of Colbún, José Ignacio Escobar, recalled that storage is one of the pillars of Colbún's Strategic Agenda for the year 2030, a segment in which the company aspires to have a leading role. “Our vision is to build energy storage systems in most of our renewable projects. In this perspective, Colbún is already preparing the development of storage projects for more than 800 MW,” said Escobar. One of these initiatives is Celda Solar, a project in the Arica y Parinacota region that considers a 421 MW capacity solar park and a 240 MW battery system, and which is currently in the process of environmental assessment.

These storage projects will be complemented by the hydroelectric dams for more than 1,000 MW that the company has, which will allow it to provide its customers and the country with continuous and safe renewable energy, in a balanced way from Arica to Puerto Montt.

Escobar recalled that the company's roadmap aims to build 4,000 MW of renewable projects by 2030 and thus double its size based on solar, wind and storage technologies. After incorporating the 230 MW of Diego de Almagro Sur, Colbún is in the midst of construction of the Horizonte wind farm in the municipality of Taltal, an 812 MW initiative and one of the largest of its kind in Latin America.

Promoting employment, SMEs and local suppliers

Diego de Almagro Sur required an investment of US$150 million and on average meant the creation of 300 jobs, in addition to strengthening the value chains of the Atacama Region and the integration of SMEs. The battery project, meanwhile, meant an investment of US$ 11 million.

The development of this initiative involved 200 suppliers, of which 130 were small and medium-sized companies and 56 of them were domiciled in the Atacama Region. With all of them, Colbún implemented a protocol to ensure the timely and full payment of contractors to suppliers and local SMEs that provided services and goods to the project, thus ensuring payment in an average term of less than 15 days from receipt of invoices. “Today, being renewable or having green energy is not enough. We have to look for ways for this investment in clean energy to be well done, with timely information and involvement of the communities, and developing productive chains that generate local value”, affirmed José Ignacio Escobar

Work with the community

As part of Colbún's local commitment, training in renewable energies was carried out in the Diego de Almagro district, thus contributing to improving local employability conditions.

In addition, under the wing of the Colbún project, it developed the "Urban Community Gardens" Program, started in October 2021 in partnership with the local NGO EcoGen, to create green spaces for the sustainable production of fresh fruits and vegetables, based on the reuse of wood. of the Diego de Almagro Sur photovoltaic project. This program benefited close to 3,700 people, including educational establishments, community organizations, health centers and the Fire Department.

The initiative was also complemented with ecological carpentry workshops, germination, transplanting and natural fertilizers for orchards, and recycling of organic and inorganic elements, plus educational works.

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