Portland, Oregon solar power systems installer and project developer Element Power Solar is adding an educational public outreach aspect to its recently announced plans to build 10 projects with 300MW of solar power capacity in Chile. Joining SERNATUR, Chile’s national tourism service, Element’s co-sponsoring an interpretive cultural and educational center in the world’s driest place, Chile’s Atacama Desert.
The educational and cultural center is to be developed in the Atacama municipality of Calama, where it will serve as a vehicle for broadening public awareness and knowledge of solar PV and solar energy, as well as other renewable energy and sustainable development technology. The educational and cultural center will be open to other renewable energy providers.
Projects such as building the center are part and parcel of Element’s efforts to develop its business internationally and domestically, a business strategy that incorporates socially beneficial outreach aspects to its activities. Element views such initiatives as bi-directional in that it results in a give-and-take and exchange of information and opinions between the company and local residents.
“We at EPS need to make the knowledge of solar energy more accessible, its characteristics more visible, its benefits more tangible for users, investors and society at large,” declared Paolo Pietrogrande, Element Power Solar’s chairman.
Reaching Out to the Public on Solar PV
“We have the opportunity to share with the local communities our global knowledge of developing, building and operating successful solar power plants, and we may learn from them how to best serve their needs for a clean, sustainable energy to be shared by future generations. This is particularly important in a country where solar energy has the potential of becoming a relevant contributor of further sustainable economic growth.”
Element’s making good progress regarding its plan to develop 10 solar power plants, each with a rated 30MW capacity in the SING (Sistema Interconectado del Norte Grande) region, which includes the Arica y Parinacota, Tarapaca and Atacama regions. Chile’s Servicio de Evaluacion Ambiental (Resolucion de Calificacion Ambiental) has already issued environmental permits for seven of the 10 projects. Permits for the remaining three are expected to be approved in the next few months, according to the company.
“Element Power Solar expects to begin construction of at least five solar plants this year” says Ivan Furones, Chief Development Officer Europe & Emerging of Element Power Solar, “This is an important commitment by the company to respond to the growing demand for electric power in the region by capturing the unique irradiation potential of the Atacama Desert with proven, high performance, and advanced solar technology.”
Home to the world’s largest copper mine, the Atacama region and SING electrical service area is a center for Chile’s mining industry. Element’s 10 projects will provide clean, renewable power to meet the mining industry’s growing energy needs in the region, displacing the use of fossil uses and thereby avoiding some 530,000 tons per year of CO2 emissions.