Acciona begins construction on second solar plant in Atacama, Chile

Acciona Energía, a subsidiary of Spanish renewable energy company Acciona, has begun construction on the Almeyda solar plant, the second with photovoltaic (PV) technology in the Atacama region, Chile.

Being constructed in the Atacama Desert, an area with one of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world, the plant will mostly support the electricity supply contract signed with the National Mining Company (Enami).

The Almeyda solar plant, located in the municipalities of Chanaral and Diego de Almagro, will have a peak capacity of 62.1MWp (54.2MW rated) and an emission-free annual capacity of 167.5GWh, equivalent to the power demand of 80,000 Chilean households.

The 150-hectare plant will consist of 187,620 modules (panels) mounted on horizontal tracking structures. The plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Acciona Energía South America director José Ignacio Escobar said: “The capital expenditure plan ACCIONA is carrying out in Chile reflects the company’s long-term view and the confidence we have in the country’s energy development.

“Almeyda is reinforcing the project portfolio we have under way and the facility will enable us to back up the supply contract we have signed with the state-owned enterprise ENAMI.”

The Almeyda photovoltaic facility is expected to create 500 jobs at the peak of construction.

After the commissioning of the plant, it will avoid the emission of 162,000 equivalent tonnes of CO2 from coal-fired power stations every year. Acciona Energía currently operates 291MW in Chile – 246MW in the El Romero PV plant in Atacama and 45MW in the Punta Palmeras wind farm in Coquimbo.

Currently, the company is constructing the 183MW San Gabriel wind farm in La Araucanía, a region where another 84MW wind farm will be established.

Construction will also begin on 64MWp Usya PV plant in Antofagasta in 2019. These projects – three wind farms and three PV plants under Acciona’s ownership in Chile – will take the company’s total capacity in the country to 700MW by 2020, with a total investment of approximately $1,000m (€833m).