Chile’s Atacama may become Latin America’s Desertec
May 24, 2010 - Sonia Credencia - latinobusinessreview.com
According to numerous studies, Chile’s Atacama desert receives more solar radiation than any other desert in the world, giving the desert the potential to be transformed into Latin America’s Desertec.
Chile can transform its north into Desertec, according to a representative of the Chilean-German chamber of commerce CAMCHAL at the sixth annual Chilean German forum on renewable energy that focused on solar and wind power.
Various news reports have reported that the Desertec project seeks to supply Europe with 15 percent of its power supply needs through the construction of solar plants in the Sahara desert. The area will expand over 6,500m2 and connect the project to Europe via underground and above ground in high-voltage direct current transmission lines.
Solar power has been ranked as one of the least developed clean energy sources and is considered to be the most expensive. However, studies by the national energy commission as well as GTZ, a German company, over 200GW of power potential has been found in the Atacama area.
Currently, Chile does not have any installed solar capacity, but there is hope that this will change shortly. Chile has announced plans for two pilot projects for the northern part of the country.
The first project, which will be located in the northern Atacama region, will produce 500KW of power through the use of photovoltaic panels. The second project, which will have a capacity of 10MW, is to incorporate concentrated solar technology.
Chile's energy minister Ricardo Raineri has stated that solar power remained uncompetitive and that the tender details were still unavailable.