The Cerro Dominador solar-thermal mega-project being developed in the Atacama Desert in Chile just took a big step forward after obtaining a favorable environmental rating from Chilean Environmental Service authorities.
The Cerro Dominador project will be the first solar-thermal power plant for direct electricity production in the whole of South America — as well as, importantly, the first non-conventional energy plant to function as a baseload power plant. This ability to function as a baseload plant is down to the molten-salt tower technology being used, which will allow electricity to continue to be produced (for around 18 hours) even in the absence of a solar resource. In other words, stable electricity, 24 hours a day, despite fluctuations in sunlight.
The Abengoa project — which will utilize state-of-the-art molten-salt tower technologies — will possess a capacity of 110 MW once completed. The location (in the region with the highest levels of solar radiation in the world), the scale, and the technologies involved, make the project a bit of a showcase piece. Once completed, the Cerro Dominador should more or less embody the ideals of solar-thermal power plant technology.