Soitec and MET complete Chile CPV pilot

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Concentrator PV (CPV) manufacturer Soitec has completed a 64kW pilot solar installation at a remote copper mining operation in Chile.

The company has installed four of its CPV systems at a site in the Sierra Gorda district to provide power for a copper mine owned by mining group Minera El Tesoro (MET).

The installation will provide electricity for the site's data centre and function as a research and demonstration platform for MET, which plans further use of solar energy at its remote mining sites in Chile, particularly in the Atacama Desert.

Last week, on May 22, MET and Soitec signed a memorandum of understanding to use the findings from this pilot plant to inform further projects using Soitec's CPV technology in Chile.

Fabio Mondini, vice president, geographical expansion with Soitec's solar division, said: “This demonstration site is an important step in our commercial efforts in a region where we have high ambition. Chile's energy demand is growing and should lead to a doubling of the installed capacity in the next few years, particularly in the northern part of the country, which has the highest DNI and strong mining-sector electricity demand.”

Martin Brown, environmental superintendent at Minera El Tesoro, added: “As the demo units feed energy to our mine's internal grid, we are testing Soitec's technology in the harshest conditions, and at the same time, assessing the possibility of incorporating renewable and clean energy on a larger scale in the future.”

The pilot uses four of Soitec Solar’s CX-S420 systems, which employ the company’s Concentrix CPV technology. This uses Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times onto small multi-junction solar cells, achieving efficiencies of around 30%.

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