Chile has its first floating solar farm installed and on a brand-new type of site: a tailings pond at a copper mine owned by London, UK-based mining giant Anglo American.
Located at Los Bronces mines, north of Santiago, the 84 kWp pilot is expected to generate 153 MWh per year for the company’s energy needs.
“This project is unlike any other. As part of a Chilean energy revolution, it stands for a deep change in society in the country and the opening of a promising new market. This initiative is strongly supported by Chilean national institutions such as the Ministry of Mining, the National Energy and Mining Service, and the Ministry of Energy,” reads a statement issued by Lenergie and Ciel & Terre, the companies that developed the project and its island anchoring system.
"Several elements account for the rising interest of these entities in this technology. The first argument is Anglo American’s significant electrical demand: mining is a notoriously energy-intensive industry. Second is the number and size of the group’s tailings ponds. Then, Chile also experiences severe levels of evaporation, which adds a challenge in the company’s mining processes. Floating solar helps manage this phenomenon.
“Last but not least, Anglo American’s available reservoir space is substantial and represents a significant investment opportunity for the international corporation. All these parameters in combination make floating solar an ideal solution, which can be widely spread to many other countries.”
Floating PV projects are now regularly implemented on a self-consumption basis for commercial, industrial and utility-type users worldwide, and Chile has become a real stakeholder, the companies said.
A report published in March 2018 by Chile’s National Energy and Mining Service highlights the presence of around 740 tailings ponds or dams in the country that are also potentially exploitable for floating solar.
“I believe this a great initiative and so, that other companies should have such installations installed,” said Minister for Mines, Baldo Prokurica.