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South America’s first solar thermal plant has just opened in Antofagasta, Chile. Designed and constructed by Abengoa, the plant will harvest 10 megawatts of solar energy for the Minera El Tesoro mining company. The array is anticipated to subsidize 55% of the mining company’s needs, which are currently supplied by diesel fuel.

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A division of the Antofagasta Minerals mining group, Minera El Tesoro commissioned the solar array from Spanish photovoltaic developer Abengoa to alleviate their dependence on foreign oil, as well as make a statement as the first purveyor of solar technology on the continent.

The solar array stretches across six hectares of land on the mining complex. Over one thousand solar thermal collectors make up the plant, collecting ample energy from the Chilean sun and storing it for future use. The cells can then distribute heat all day and night from the thermal energy storage.

Surprisingly the Minera El Tesoro array is the first solar thermal plant in South America, but construction of more solar arrays are rumored to be on the horizon. New installations in South America, Latin America and the Caribbean would not only catch developing countries up to other renewable energy developments, but would also help them to grow without dependence on expensive fossil fuels.

Via Clean Technica

Images via Wikimedia Commons