ACCIONA Energía has begun the start-up phase of the ‘El Romero Solar’ photovoltaic solar plant, the biggest in Latin America with a maximum capacity of 246 MWp (196 MW rated power), just thirteen months after starting construction work. The company has also completed the assembly of the last sets of panels in the plant: 776,000 photovoltaic modules with a solar capture surface area of more than 1.5 million square meters (equivalent to 211 soccer pitches).
Located in the region of Atacama, Chile, the plant – 100% owned by ACCIONA – has already been connected to the Central Interconnected System (SIC) of that country, starting a process that will continue over the next weeks until the whole installation enters commercial service.
El Romero Solar is located in the municipality of Vallenar, around 645 km north of Santiago, with a surface area of 280 hectares in the Atacama Desert. It represents an investment of around 343 million dollars for ACCIONA. Once completed, it will produce around 500 GWh of clean energy per year, equivalent to the electricity demand of 240,000 Chilean homes, and avoid the emission of around 475,000 metric tons of CO2 from coal-fired power stations in the process.
ACCIONA Energía Chile General Manager José Ignacio Escobar expressed his satisfaction at having completed the installation of the photovoltaic panels in the plant and its grid connection in just thirteen months, two less than the initial timescale contained in the construction plan.
“We completed the project in record time”, he says, highlighting “ACCIONA’s technical and financial capability to take on all the challenges posed by the installation of a project of this size. We are committed to the objective of achieving a clean and sustainable energy mix in Chile, and the best way to demonstrate this is to complete the projects we undertake to the technical quality standards required and in the shortest possible timescale. ACCIONA Energía will maintain this approach in any other project it may carry out in the country”.
El Romero Solar is the second asset owned by ACCIONA Energía in Chile after the 45 MW Punta Palmeras wind farm in the region of Coquimbo, which entered service in October 2014.
In August this year the company was awarded 506 GWh in auction 2015/01 organized by the Chilean National Energy Commission. To cover this level of supply, it will build the San Gabriel wind farm (183 MW) in La Araucanía.
ACCIONA Energía is also developing other renewables projects in Chile, for which it will negotiate private purchase and sale contracts for the electricity produced in the installations.
ACCIONA has been present as a group in Chile since 1993, initially through its Infrastructure Division with major projects in the fields of highway construction, hospitals, hydroelectric power plants and infrastructures for the mining sector. In the water management business, ACCIONA has designed and built - and now operates - a large desalination plant for the mining industry in Copiapó. The company has also built a number of wastewater treatment plants in the country.
ACCIONA Energía has 18 years’ experience in the design, construction and operation of large-scale photovoltaic plants. Over the years it has installed plants with a total capacity of 487 MWp, either owned by itself or built for clients.
Among its own installations – apart from El Romero Solar (246 MWp) – is the plant at Sishen (94.3 MWp) in South Africa (the biggest producer of its type in Africa) or the 45.8 MWp plant at Amareleja (Portugal).
In a recent tender in Mexico ACCIONA Energía was awarded 478 GWh, allowing it to build the Puerto Libertad photovoltaic complex in Sonora.
Installing the last PV panel of the 776,000 ones which make up the El Romero Solar plant.
Aerial view of the El Romero Solar PV plant in the Atacama desert (Chile).