Sian Crampsie

The Chilean government has granted environmental consent for what will be one of the world’s largest concentrating solar power (CSP) plants equipped with energy storage.

The 260 MW Copiapó power plant will be built in the Atacama region and will be capable of producing firm baseload power 24 hours a day for Chile’s central interconnected grid (SIC).

Developer SolarReserve said in a statement that the project would be based on its Crescent Dunes project in the USA, which is currently in final commissioning. It will use the US company’s CSP tower technology together with its proprietary thermal energy storage technology.

The plant will operate at a capacity factor and availability equal to that of a coal fired power plant, and will also produce energy at a competitive price, said SolarReserve. "This technology realistically has the potential to power the entire country of Chile using two phenomenal Chilean resources, salt and sun," said Tom Georgis, SolarReserve’s SVP of Development.

The Copiapó project will start commercial operation in 2019, said SolarReserve.