SANTIAGO – Chilean environmental authorities have approved the construction of Latin America’s largest solar powered desalination plant that will be built in the Atacama Region and contemplates the use of photovoltaic energy.
The initiative of “Energy and Water of the Pacific” (ENAPAC) involves an initial investment of US$500 million and entails construction of a solar-powered plant between Caldera and Copiapó with capacity of 2,630l/s, a 100MW photovoltaic plant to power it and a reservoir with capacity for 600,000m3 of treated water.
At its maximum capacity -2,630 liters per second, it will become the largest production in Latin America, surpassing Coloso de BHP, which has a capacity of 2,500 liters per second in the Antofagasta Region.
According to the project website, the desalinated water will be transported to a reservoir that will ensure the supply of the users in one of the most arid places in the world.
Behind the project is the Chilean technology company TRENDS Industrial, linked to the businessman Rodrigo Silva, and Almar Water Solutions, arm of operations in water infrastructure of the Saudi firm Abdul Latif Jameel Energy & Environmental Services.
“For a better performance, the reservoir will have an innovative technology of floating coverage, which will reduce the effects of evaporation and give greater security to the water reserve,” the company said in a statement.
The Enapac project will be one of the “most advanced projects in the world with a combination of reverse osmosis desalination and photovoltaic energy,” the statement read. It is also nominated for the world’s most important design and sustainability award.
The CEO of Enapac, Rodrigo Silva, said a few months ago that the construction of the project could begin in the first quarter of next year and that it would have its first results in 2021. The plan will be financed by 80% with bank contributions and in a 20% for the company’s own funds. Of this last percentage (about US$ 100 million), Saudi investors would represent about 51%, in order to control the investment.
Atacama governor Francisco Sanchez welcomed the decision, saying the plant will be built according to the highest environmental and quality standards, with respect for the environment and local communities.