IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2015 - 74

The solar energy challenge for Chile has been presented
using a multidimensional approach consisting
of six major areas to be addressed.
topic on the energy agenda; in 2012, a new law to facilitate net
billing service for residential-size energy producers was passed.
Some of the world's first unsubsidized solar energy sales
materialized in northern Chile in 2012. Solar energy in Chile
currently has close to 220 MW of installed capacity, with an
additional 570 MW under construction. Moreover, projects
whose environmental qualification has been approved total
more than 8,000 MW. With respect to the existing Chilean
solar energy projects, Figure 4 provides a breakdown of their
land use, and Figure 5 shows their plant factors.
The slightly above-international-average land use values
of 2.4 ha/MW (NREL 2013) and 3.02 ha/MW in Chile are
justified by the use of single-axis tracking systems due to the
region's high direct radiation index.
Chilean solar power plants exhibit an accumulative
average plant factor of 21%. These early results are high
when compared with those observed in countries such as
Germany, which are around 10%. In addition, most of the
new Chilean power plants entered the system during the past
winter season, which had a low radiation index. An annual
average plant factor in the range of 25% is expected after the
first learning phase.
The thermal use of solar energy has also been developed in
recent years, not only for residential and commercial use but
also in the form of huge facilities used by the mining industry.

Biomass, wind, and small run-of-river power plants have
also been actively developed since 2008. Today, the total
installed capacity of local renewable resources (excluding
hydropower plants over 20 MW) is close to 1,800 MW, which
represents nearly 10% of Chile's total installed electricity
capacity and almost 10% of its annual electricity production.

The Solar Energy Challenge
A high-penetration scenario for solar energy in Chile brings
a number of challenges, which are summarized in Figure 6.
In fact, the challenges relating to large-scale solar energy
development exist along several dimensions. They concern
not only electricity production goals but also socioenvironmental development, heat production, green chemistry based
on solar energy, the impacts on local industries and products,
and access to water. They are described below.

Electricity Production
Electricity production is the most visible application of solar
energy. In fact, solar resources in Chile can not only fuel sustainable development in Chile but also supply electricity for
export to other South American countries. Figure 7 shows
one vision for the future exportation of Chilean solar energy.
In this scenario, foreseen for 2035, 30% of the electricity consumption in South America can be supplied by

Ha/MW Versus Power

14

Ha/MW Panels
Ha/MW Project Land Use
Linear (Ha/MW Panels)
Linear (Ha/MW Project Land Use)

12
Ha/MW

10
8
6
4
0

0.024
8
8
9
9
14
16
20
21
22
22
26
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
30
40
48
50
50
52
60
70
71
75
88
90
91
94
98
104
112
122
129
143
160
162
180
196
250
306

2

Project Installed Capacity (MW)
Panels
(Ha/MW)

Project Land
Use (Ha/MW)

Average

3.02

3.69

Standard Deviation

1.8

2.1

figure 4. Land use of existing solar power plants (source: Environmental Impact Evaluation System).
74

ieee power & energy magazine

march/april 2015



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2015

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2015 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2015 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2015 - 1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2015 - Cover3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2015 - Cover4
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