The Spanish energy developer Abengoa has been awarded three solar power projects in Chile and it was reported for at least two of them that it appeared the company had been able to bid the projects so that they would generate electricity at a cost lower than some fossil fuel plants could – US $0.115 per kilowatt-hour (KWh). Additionally, two of the Abengoa solar projects will be of the concentrating kind and have thermal energy storage capability, which means they can supply 24-hour electricity once they are up and running.
Two things that may contribute to the very low price are very intense sunlight in Northern Chile and a lower capital cost for Abengoa. Power towers will be the type of CSP for the two plants with energy storage and the third plant without it will be PV.
“Winning a power supply tender with solar-thermal and photovoltaic plants, competing against conventional power generation, is an important milestone that demonstrates the success of our technology work to provide clean energy at competitive and predictable prices over decades,” explained Manuel Sánchez Ortega, CEO of Abengoa.
Each CSP power tower will have a capacity of 110 MW and the PV plant will have 100 MW. Abengoa will manage all three plants as well as install them. The company has the intention of developing more power generation in the Chilean market. It has already successfully installed CSP in Chile.
The South American nation currently gets most of its energy from fossil fuels, which are imported.
Renewable energy has been criticized for being ‘expensive’ but the costs of solar power have decreased enough that this criticism no longer appears nearly as valid, if at all.
Clean energy doesn’t pollute like coal, oil, and gas do, yet somehow the cost of unhealthy air pollution and climate change emissions doesn’t get mentioned that often when solar power is being criticized. Also, fossil fuels will eventually be exhausted, but sunlight and wind won’t.