Concentrating Solar Power comes to Chile

The next step involves the finalisation of permits, with the intention for the pilot plant to be in operation in early 2012. Solar thermal electric or concentrated solar power (CSP) is a clean and sustainable group of technologies for large scale power generation. By means of large arrays of mirrors, the solar irradiation is concentrated and used to transform water into high temperature steam.

This steam can be fed into a turbine to generate electricity, or be used directly in several applications such as desalination, enhanced oil recovery or other industrial processes. By using thermal storage, CSP systems can continuously supply steam after sunset.

The Chilean project consists of a solar boiler and its connection to the coal fired power plant. The solar boiler, that produces super-heated steam, is constituted of modules developed by Solar Power Group using its Fresnel technology. E-CL, GDF Suez’s electricity company in the northern electric system of Chile, will be the off-taker of the steam. Through the project, the power plant will reduce its consumption of coal, decrease its carbon emissions and increase its fuel efficiency.

“This project is aligned with GDF Suez Group’s intention to incorporate renewable and clean energy in its own energy mix, as well as with the development of innovative and effective solutions for our clients”, indicates Jan Flachet, Head of GDF Suez Energy Latin America.

Count Jacques de Lalaing, founder and Managing Director of Solar Power Group, points out that “The inclusion of our solar boilers in the Mejillones plant is an important milestone on a path towards affordable clean energy production.”

It is foreseen that sustainability will be one of the main requirements put on future power supply. By offering optimised hybrid CSP plants, GDF Suez will demonstrate once more its commitment towards the satisfaction of the challenges presented by clean development.

Of all renewable energy sources, some believe CSP could potentially be one of the major contributors to world energy needs in the future. According to estimates by the International Energy Agency for example, 10 to 15% of global electricity production will be generated by CSP in 2050.