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29 May 2013

Soitec and Minera El Tesoro establish CPV pilot plant for Chilean mining operation

Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar system maker Soitec of Bernin, France says that Santiago-based Minera El Tesoro (MET), part of one of the largest mining groups in Chile, has built the first pilot plant in South America using its Soitec Solar technology. Four CX-S420 CPV systems have been installed at a site in Chile’s Sierra Gorda district to provide renewable energy for a remote copper-mining operation. As well as featuring robust glass-glass technology (suiting hot and arid environments), Soitec says that the design of its systems offer low degradation and do not need any water for cooling, suiting installation in the Atacama (the world’s driest desert).

The systems installed for MET use Soitec Solar’s Concentrix CPV technology and two-axis tracking systems to generate a total installed capacity of 64kWp. In addition to providing electricity for the site’s data center, the installation serves as a research and demonstration platform for MET using solar technologies that are designed to optimize energy costs in hot, arid locations with high direct normal irradiation (DNI). On 22 May, MET and Soitec signed a memorandum of understanding to leverage the experience gained from this pilot plant to facilitate their respective plans to develop additional projects with CPV technology in Chile.

“This demonstration site is an important step in our commercial efforts in a region where we have high ambition,” says Fabio Mondini, VP, geographical expansion with Soitec’s Solar Division (Soitec has installed its CPV technology in 18 countries to date). “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,” he adds.

“Considering our location within the Atacama desert, one of the highest irradiation regions on earth, we are very pleased to be working with one of the CPV leaders on this pilot installation and to have the opportunity to use Soitec’s CPV technology in real-world conditions,” says Martin Brown, environmental superintendent at Minera El Tesoro. “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.”

In 2012, Chile’s renewable energy agency Centro de Energias Renovables (CER) published its National Energy Strategy ENE 2012-2030, in which it announced the approval of more than 3.1GW in solar-energy projects to address issues such as possible power shortages, price increases for fossil fuels, Chile’s economic growth and increasing demand for electricity. As a country, Chile has the world’s highest solar irradiation and is expected to be the site of some of the world’s first large-scale solar projects.

Tags: Soitec CPV


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