A pilot plant should operate from early 2012, say the developers. The steam’s offtaker will be E-CL, GDF Suez’s electricity company in Chile’s northern electric system.
“This project is aligned with GDF Suez Group’s (now ENGIE’s) intention to incorporate renewable and clean energy in its own energy mix, as well as with the development of innovative and effective solutions for our clients,” said Jan Flachet, head of GDF Suez Energy Latin America.
A solar boiler based on Solar Power Group’s Fresnel technology will receive solar irradiation from an array of mirrors to generate steam that can raise the Mejillones plant’s fuel efficiency and cut its coal consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
“This project is a first step to unlock the potential of solar energy in the north of Chile,” said E-CL’s CEO Lode Verdeyen.
Chilean policy has promoted renewables since 2004 with an aim of cutting dependency on fossil fuel imports. Solar thermal energy has mostly been developed in the country’s north, where solar radiation levels can exceed that of the Sahara desert.
Under Chile’s new energy law 20.257, 5% of total production in new energy contracts must come from non-conventional sources. By 2024 renewables should contribute 10% of total energy production.