El Resplandor Solar Project – Decarbonizing Power in Chile
For ATCO, a critical aspect of energy stewardship is leading the world’s transition to lower-emitting energy systems while supporting a reliable electricity supply for the people who need it.
In the Bío Bío region of south-central Chile, we’re making headway with our El Resplandor Solar Project
The 9-megawatt (MW) solar energy project is being built in two phases by ATCO Chile and IMPULSO (our minority partner.) The first 3-MW phase is completed and has been operating successfully since June. The second 6-MW Phase 2 is planned to be underway soon and scheduled for completion in 2021.
The project is located on a 7-hectare pasture—about the size of 10 football fields. Sheep still roam outside the plant of 7,000 solar panels that generate enough renewable energy to support 4,000 households without noise or emissions of any kind.
The project is closely aligned with Chile’s long-term vision and ATCO’s goals: investment in affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy, all with the local community involvement.
Projects like El Resplandor bring a number of benefits to a region or country looking for innovative answers to energy demand. These types of small distributed generation facilities—such as solar, wind and small hydro—can be located closer to where people need electricity, allowing savings in transmission and distribution and better reliability, as well as lower operational costs.”
“While decarbonization is a global ambition,” says Alba Martínez, business development manager of ATCO Chile, “the solutions are often community-based.
Building respectful relationships has long defined how ATCO does business. Back in 2018, when the ATCO team first visited pastureland in the Bío Bío region to investigate the solar project envisioned by IMPULSO, they understood that along with the technical aspects of the project, the community would play an important role.
Community consultation with people in the nearby town of Cabrero brought forward concerns and ideas that were addressed to ensure the project fit with the community’s priorities. As a result, ATCO adjusted the project, including taking steps to ensure any visual impacts of the project were minimized and traditional use as pastureland was preserved.
Now that Phase 1 is operational, the field could still be a quiet space where sheep graze, but now it also harvests the sun.
“We are very proud of the plant we have built, which now is the most southern utility-scale solar facility on the planet,” says Matías Lyon, part of ATCO Chile´s business development team. “In addition to the environmental and energy benefits of the project, we saw the enthusiasm of local businesses and people wanting to be involved and work on the project. And that was one of the most rewarding parts of El Resplandor.”
Quick Facts about El Resplandor
- Solar project located in the Bío Bío region in south-central Chile, which offers excellent opportunities to connect with the transmission and distribution network
- First phase completed June 2020: now commercially operated
- Covers about 7 hectares of land that was previously used for grazing sheep and horses – the equivalent of about 10 soccer/football fields
- Includes 7,056 solar panels
- Peak generation capacity of 3 MWp (or 2.6 MW of net capacity supplied to the grid)
- Supplies energy equivalent to the consumption of 4,000 households in the area
- Annual production estimated at 5.8 GWh