Construction work on El Romero Solar will begin soon, with a view to start-up in mid-2017. This will enable the company to cover a large part of its commitment to supply 600 GWh of electricity from renewable sources to distribution concession holders in the Central Interconnected System (SIC) from 2018 onward. This capacity, awarded in a tender in 2014, will represent an investment of around 448 million euros (US$ 500 million) for ACCIONA.
The power produced in the plant will be used to cover other renewables-based electricity supplies in the country.
The new photovoltaic plant, located in the municipality of Vallenar (Region of Atacama) 645 km north of the capital Santiago, will produce around 505 GWh of clean energy a year, equivalent to the electricity demand of 245,000 Chilean homes and avoiding the emission of approximately 485,000 metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year from coal-fired power stations.
ACCIONA Energía CEO Rafael Mateo pointed out:
"The start of construction work on El Romero Solar is a very significant milestone, one that will enable us to respond to our commitment to supply renewables-based power in Chile and strengthen our role in the country's energy sector. We are very pleased to contribute to the availability of clean, quality energy in Chile through what will be our biggest photovoltaic plant in the world".
The El Romero Solar plant will cover 280 hectares in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on the planet. It has a high level of solar radiation and very clean air, which facilitates the capture of the sun's energy. These factors have been crucial in the installation of astronomical observatories in the area.
The plant will be equipped with 777,360 polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic modules, making up a solar capture surface of over 1.5 million m2 (equivalent to 211 professional soccer pitches). The panels will be installed on static metal structures which, if lined up, would have a total length of over 111 kilometers.
El Romero Solar will be the second asset owned by ACCIONA Energía in Chile after the 45 MW Punta Palmeras wind farm located in the region of Coquimbo.