Companies and Universities make use of solar energy in Chile

Prof. Andrew Watt and Sascha Koslowsky participated in a field trip organized by Corfo.

The Atacama Desert receives the highest solar radiation in the world and a high average number of hours of sunshine a year, both conditions are unbeatable for the development of a solar industry. Hence the importance of the visit of national and foreign businesses, investors and academics who were part of the first Solar Field Trip organized by Corfo’s Solar Energy Program. The delegation visited three solar power plants located in the Region of Antofagasta, in addition to the Plant in the Salar de Atacama of Rockwood Lithium Chile.

Solar Plants

The first of the plants visited corresponded to the Atacama I complex, currently under construction by Abengoa Chile, which corresponds to an initiative that has two technologies: photovoltaic and solar power concentration. This plant will have a capacity of 210 MW (110 in tower technologies and 100 in photovoltaic) and a storage system of 17.5 hours.

The tour continues at the María Elena de Sunedison Chile plant, which has an installed capacity of almost 73 MW, and ended at the ENEL Green Power Finis Terrae Plant with a capacity of 160 MW.

The participants valued the route that allowed them to know both the potentialities and the challenges presented by the Chilean desert. “We got to know three interesting developments that have already experienced the conditions of the desert,” said Rafael Burgos, Representative of Ferrostaal.

On the occasion, the representatives were able to internalize the main difficulties that these plants face today and that mainly have to do with the soiling (dust on the panels), high temperature reaching the modules and high UV radiation, which paradoxically is also a problem, as it reduces the life of components such as wiring, which in some cases, needs to be replaced every six months.

Finally, the Field Trip Desert of Atacama 2016, ended with the visit to the Plant in the Salar de Atacama of Rockwood Lithium Chile, in which the assistants could learn more about the production process that the company has.

In this way, the participants internalized on the growing solar industry of the country and also established networks that allow them to apply to the Corfo initiative to develop technologies for the extreme conditions of the desert. “This tour allowed us to see on the ground the reality of our desert and also to generate networks that undoubtedly allow us to study alliances for the joint work of future technological developments,” said Rodrigo Mancilla, Executive Director of the Solar Committee.


The objective of this Field Trip Solar was to know on the ground the opportunities of the desert, as well as its challenges, so that the organizations can participate in the call to Corfo’s technological program “Development of Photovoltaic Solar Energy Technologies for Desert Climates and High Radiation “, which invites to develop technologies for the growing solar photovoltaic industry in the country, and respond better to the particular conditions of desert and high radiation areas such as the Atacama Desert.

Corfo’s program supports projects involving companies and technology centers focused on the applied research of photovoltaic systems for desert areas with high levels of radiation. It cofinances up to 70% of the total cost of the awarded project, equivalent to a maximum of up to 8 billion pesos, under the modality of nonreimbursable subsidy.

In this context, Corfo’s call is to generate technological development for equipment conducive to the conduct of applied research, technology transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship; Adaptation or construction of infrastructure; Activities related to the management, operation, administration and management of the program and activities related to the execution of the project portfolio, among others. Applications for this program will be open until March 30, 2017.

Source: Corfo