Spanish company Abengoa has secured an approval from the Chilean Environmental Service to construct the 110MW Cerro Dominador solar-thermal plant.
The project, which uses molten salts tower technology, will be the first solar-thermal plant for direct electricity production in South America and is also the first non-conventional renewable energy project to serve as a baseload power plant.
Abengoa said that the Chilean Environmental Service's evaluation and review committee has unanimously voted to approve the project, located in the Atacama Desert, after reviewing the absence of any type of negative impact during the construction and operations phases.
The Cerro Dominador solar project will feature a thermal storage system, designed and developed by Abengoa that will enable electricity to be produced for approximately 18 hours without the need for a solar resource.
This will allow the plant to provide generate electricity 24 hours a day and to respond to all demand periods for power consumption.
Development of the Cerro Dominador solar project forms part of the Chilean Government's national renewable energy development program, intended to provide the nation with a clean energy future.
Abengoa said that will hold a ceremony to begin the project on 14 May 2014 at the site in the commune of María Elena in the Antofagasta region, northern Chile.
The project will create an average of 700 direct jobs, requiring up to 2,000 workers. Once the project begins operations, around 50 stable jobs will be created.
Additionally, the development, commissioning and operation of the plant will provide a high number of indirect jobs.
Abengoa's Cerro Dominador solar project will avoid the emission of about 643,000t of CO2 into the atmosphere annually.
Image: Chile approves Abengoa's 110MW solar thermal plant. Photo: courtesy of Abengoa.