If you were to picture the optimal spot for building a hydroelectric power plant, I’ll bet the middle of a desert would not be your first choice. Yet, the Chilean energy company Valhalla has decided the Atacama Desert is the perfect location for such an endeavor. The plant will provide power for three nearby provinces, drastically slashing their reliance on fossil fuels. So, how exactly would this work?
If there is one thing Chile is not lacking it is access to coastal regions and the powerhouse of the Pacific ocean. By drawing up water through solar-powered pumps into reservoirs nestled high in the Andes mountains, the plant will then use gravity to harness the power of the waters rushing back down toward the sea. Both reservoirs can hold water up to 22,000 Olympic swimming pools in volume. The plant itself will have a capacity of 300 megawatts, enough to fuel three provinces around the clock.
According to Francisco Torrealba, Valhalla’s strategy manager, ”This is the only place in the world where a project of this kind can be developed.” The company is still seeking investors and hopes to break ground next year. Construction should take about three and a half years in this location, yet the promising technology may be adaptable to other challenging areas of the world. Creatively using the Earth’s natural terrain to generate clean, sustainable energy may be just what we need to cut our reliance on fossil fuels.