In Chile, baseload solar power solutions and solar thermal technology company, SolarReserve, has received environmental approval from the government to develop one of the world’s largest solar projects with energy storage.
According to the company, the Copiapó Solar Project, scheduled to reach commercial operation in 2019, will deliver 260MW of non-intermittent baseload power 24 hours a day to the central interconnected system in Chile.
The project technology is based on SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project in Nevada, US, which has completed construction and is currently in the final commissioning stage.
The Crescent Dunes project includes 10 hours of full-load energy storage and will deliver more than 500,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year.
Nevada’s largest electric utility, NV Energy, will purchase 100% of the electricity generated under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
Environmental impact of baseload solar power
As part of the project Chilean development and permitting process for the Copiapó project, the company collaborated with stakeholders and local communities to ensure minimal environmental impact.
This process includes careful site selection, low water use systems, and extensive environmental studies prior to starting construction.
Kevin Smith, SolarReserve’s CEO, explained: “One of the fundamental goals for SolarReserve is minimising the environmental impacts of our projects at every stage – from site selection and construction, to full operational use.
“[…] Our proprietary solar energy storage technology provides a viable and cost competitive alternative to fossil-based electricity generation, with the potential to meaningfully reduce reliance on fossil fuels and associated carbon pollution that is contributing to climate change.”
CSP combined with PV
The baseload solar power project consists of concentrating solar power (CSP) tower technology with molten salt thermal energy storage combined with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
This hybrid concept will maximise the output of the facility, delivering over 1,800 gigawatt hours (GWh) annually, while providing a highly competitive price of power, stated the company.
It will produce up to 260MW of firm baseload solar power, which is critical to Chile’s industrial sector. In particular, for the mining companies operating at a capacity factor and availability percentage equal to that of a coal fired power plant.
The company explained that currently no other proven renewable energy technology can provide this cost competitive energy solution to meet the needs of Chile’s largest and most important industries.
Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s SVP of Development, said: “This technology realistically has the potential to power the entire country of Chile using two phenomenal Chilean resources, salt and sun.”
Baseload solar power in S.Africa
Last December, the South Africa Department of Energy (DoE) selected SolarReserve’s 100MW Redstone project in its latest round of solar energy projects.
The Redstone project is part of the DoE’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
It is the first of its kind in Africa using molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration with the capability to support South Africa’s demand for energy when it’s needed most – day and night.
The 100MW project with 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200,000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set.