Between October 2015 and November 2016, ACCIONA Energy built its biggest photovoltaic plant to date in the Atacama desert; it also had the highest capacity of such a plant in Latin America when it was completed.
With 246 MWp peak capacity, El Romero Solar produces energy equivalent to the consumption of around 240.000 Chilean homes. Eighty megawatt are used to power 100% the Google's data center in Chile.
Located in the municipality of Vallenar, in the Atacama Region, 645 km north of the capital Santiago, the new facility is able to generate 493 GWh of clean energy a year on average, avoiding the emission of around 474,000 metric tons to the atmosphere in coal-fired power stations.
The El Romero Solar plant covers 280 hectares in 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 is equipped with 776,000 polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic modules, making up a solar capture surface of over 1.5 million m2 (equivalent to 211 professional soccer pitches). The panels are installed on static metal structures which, if lined up, would have a total length of over 196 kilometers.