It is the company's contribution to the objective of a more sustainable electricity system on the island
ACCIONA Energía has donated the first grid-connected photovoltaic solar plant on Easter Island to the territory. It represents the company's contribution to a more sustainable electricity system on the island, which currently generates all the electricity it consumes from diesel fuel.
The donation ceremony took place last weekend during an event presided by Chilean Energy Minister Susana Jiménez, with the presence of the Governor of Rapa Nui province Tarita Alarcón, Mayor Pedro Edmunds and the CEO of ACCIONA Energía for South America José Ignacio Escobar. Representatives of the Chilean Production Promotion Corporation (CORFO) and the local utility company SASIPA also attended to receive the donation.
The photovoltaic system installed on Easter Island designed and built by ACCIONA has been in service for several months now. It consists of 400 polycrystalline silicon panels mounted on ten permanent structures, with a total peak capacity of 128 kWp (100 kW rated capacity). It is equipped with an inverter that converts the DC electricity generated into AC, a transformer that raises the output voltage from 0.42 kilovolts (kV) to 13.2 kV and a 100-meter-long line to transport the power to the Mataveri substation, where it is injected into the island's grid.
The solar plant will produce an annual average of around 200 MWh, avoiding the direct emission of 135 tonnes of CO2 per year in the process (not including the quantity produced by the transport of oil from the continent). This clean production will also avoid 8% of the consumption of diesel fuel for electricity generation, which has to be regularly brought by sea from the Chilean mainland.
The plant is located next to the airport in the south-west of the island -which stands in the Pacific Ocean 3,700 kilometers from the Chilean coast- and is already operated by the utility company SASIPA (a subsidiary of CORFO). Among other services, SASIPA supplies electricity and drinking water to Easter Island.
During the event, Energy Minister Susana Jimenez said that “this is a particularly important issue for the Rapa Nui community, because changing the energy matrix towards sustainable sources not only contributes to reducing greenhouse gases, it is also a way of conserving the island and its people and culture”
ACCIONA Energía CEO for South America Ignacio Escobar stated that “this small facility represents a very important symbolic step forward in the necessary transition of Easter Island to a clean and sustainable energy system. We are very pleased to be starting this process, cooperating with the Chilean Government and the Rapa Nui community to provide solutions based on renewable energies, which are ideal for enclaves like this because they make use of local resources and show great care for its valuable natural and cultural heritage”.
With a surface area of 163.6 km2 and well-known worldwide for its archeological remains (particularly the large stone statues called "moái"), Easter Island's population is just over 5,000, and mainly concentrated in the capital, Hanga Roa. 40% of the island's territory is covered by the Rapa Nui National Park, declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1995.
This project is part of a firm commitment by ACCIONA to the Chilean renewables sector, where it has a 246-MWp photovoltaic solar plant in Atacama –the biggest in Latin American when it was grid connected in November 2016- and a 45-MW wind farm in Coquimbo. It is currently building a 183-MW wind farm in La Araucanía, is about to start construction on another wind farm, and two photovoltaic projects on which building work will begin in 2019.
In other areas of activity, ACCIONA has been present in Chile since 1993, initially through its Infrastructure Division with large-scale projects in the construction of highways, hospitals, hydroelectric plants and infrastructures for the mining sector. In its Water business, ACCIONA has designed, constructed and now operates a large desalination plant for the mining sector in Copiapó and has built a number of wastewater treatment plants.
Photo caption 1: Chilean Energy Minister Susana Jiménez (in the middle) with Easter Island’s representatives and other guests to the plant donation event.
Photo caption 2: Corporación de Fomento de la Produccion (CORFO) vicepresident and ACCIONA Energy general manager for South America José Ignacio Escobar showing the donation document.