SolarReserve to submit Chile project EIS

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

US-based SolarReserve will submit an EIS for a concentrated solar power (CSP) project in northern Chile in the coming days, according to company development director José Antonio Lobo.

A normal 100MW plant, such as the one the company is building in the US state of Nevada, would have capex of around US$700mn, Lobo said at the ElecGas 2014 conference in Santiago.

The molten salts tower plant in Chile will be similar but the company is looking at using solar photovoltaic technology (approximately 75MW) to stabilize output and lower costs, and air cooling technology to minimize water use. These will raise capex to US$800mn-US$850mn, said Lobo.

The plant would have the capacity to generate over 800,000GWh/year.

"However, the important thing is the final price of the energy," highlighted the executive, adding this would be around US$120/MWh.

The price of energy will be similar to fossil fuels thanks to technological progress, according to Lobo. "Solar energy costs are not variable, like fossil fuels, so the only cost is the project finance."

Earlier this year, Spain's Abengoa won a tender to build a CSP plant in northern region II.

The conditions in the north of Chile are favorable for this kind of plant due to the predictability and consistency of solar radiation in the area, which is home to the world's driest dessert - Atacama.

In Spain, Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) is 2.4MWh/m2/year and in Nevada, DNI is 2.8MWh/m2/year. Chile, however, has a DNI of 3.2MWh/m2/year, making it attractive for solar developers, he highlighted.

Solar Reserve set up an office in Chile over a year ago to develop large scale projects for long term contracts. The company's current project portfolio in the country involves 600MW/year in four projects on the country's northern SING and central SIC grids, said Lobo.

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