Chile’s northern Atacama Desert, the world’s driest, is home to the country’s largest industrial photovoltaic (PV) power plant and GE’s power conversion technology is helping the PV plant deliver clean energy to the region’s mining and other heavy industries.
The project can reach a peak output of 1.4 megawatts (MW) of solar energy, and the plant is expected to grow: using GE technology, the project can be scaled up to 25 MW, and expansions are being planned for the coming years. The new plant is also giving a boost to the country’s 2020 goal of sourcing 20 percent of the power used by industry with renewable energy.
The project is helping Chile diversify its energy sources
The plant is owned and operated by a joint venture between solar plant specialist Saferay GmbH of Germany and engineering/construction firm SELTEC Ingeniería of Chile.
The project is aiding Chile’s efforts to diversify its energy sources, and increase the amount of renewable energy sources powering the country’s industries.
GE’s power conversion technology is part of a larger portfolio of GE solutions that are helping give rise to energy policies like Chile’s.
“The Chilean government’s policy is that industry must source at least 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, otherwise financial penalties will apply,” said Juan Fernández, head of project management, Saferay. “That means this plant has to perform reliably and efficiently on a long-term, consistent basis, and in order to make that happen we turned to GE, whose technology, experience, resources and global presence will help make the plant a success. In turn, we expect that success to stimulate the solar PV industry throughout the entire region.”
The pioneering project fits into the larger trend towards more industrial scale solar power across Latin America. It also demonstrates how GE is working in Chile – and elsewhere in the region – to generate energy with reliable and efficient PV solutions, which assure high quality and stability as power is distributed.
To produce, transform, store and transport clean energy to Chile’s industries, GE is supplying two advanced outdoor PV inverters optimized for Saferay’s specific requirements and for the ambient conditions in the region. In addition, GE is supplying other electrical equipment, including medium-voltage switchgear and transformers.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to support Saferay and SELTEC in their work to deliver solar power and a more diverse, sustainable and efficient supply of energy to Chile,” said Stefan Franko, business leader Renewables for GE Energy Management’s Power Conversion business. “GE helps countries and companies around the world to develop long-term, reliable and efficient solutions for the use of solar power and other renewable energy technologies.”
Top image: The Atacama Desert, courtesy Flickr user pirindao.