LatAm's first thermosolar plant opens
Global Times

Chile on Tuesday inaugurated Latin America's first-ever thermosolar energy plant, a vast complex dubbed Cerro Dominador in the Atacama desert that gives a boost to the country's quest for carbon-neutrality by 2050.

Sightseers enter the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The spectacular scenery of the desert is known for resembling the surface of the moon. (Photo: AFP)

In an area exceeding 700 hectares, 10,600 mirrors surround a 250-meter-high tower topped with a receiver onto which the Sun's rays are reflected.

Molten salts in the receiver absorb the heat and are then used to generate electricity - up to 110 megawatts - by means of a steam turbine.

Combined with an adjacent photovoltaic plant, the Cerro Dominador complex is capable of producing 210 megawatts of renewable energy.

A feature of the project is that the salts can store energy for up to 17.5 hours, allowing the system to continue operating without direct sunlight, and for 24 hours per day, its operators say.

"It will allow us to save more than 600,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. That is equivalent to what 300,000 cars emit in a year," Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said at the inauguration event.

Chile has pledged to make its economy carbon neutral by 2050, meaning it emits no more than it can offset through other means.