South America’s first solar thermal plant comes online

  • Located in Chile, the plant represents South America's first solar thermal plant to come online. Image: Abengoa.
    Located in Chile, the plant represents South America's first solar thermal plant to come online. Image: Abengoa.

Spanish PV developer Abengoa has built and designed a 10MW solar thermal plant for Minera El Tesoro, which is said to represent South America’s first operational solar thermal plant.

Built in the Antofagasta region in Chile, the 10MW plant consists of a turnkey solar heat process system composed of 1,280 PT-1 solar thermal collector modules installed on 6 hectares of land. The technology has been designed and developed by Abengoa specifically for industrial thermal processes.

The solar plant will deliver heat 24 hours a day by using thermal energy storage, which is ideal for the mining industry and industries with similar energy needs. According to Abengoa, the plant is expected to provide enough energy to replace 55% of the diesel fuel currently used in the solution heating process for the copper electro-extraction process in the mining production.

Minera El Tesoro, part of the mining group Antofagasta Minerals, inaugurated the plant at the end of November 2012. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Chile’s Minister of Energy Jorge Bunster Bettely.

Abengoa has been operating in Chile since 1987 and in the past year it has become a solar hot spot. According to a new report by NPD Solarbuzz, the Chilean PV industry is set to become a mainstream market in Latin America.

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