Speeding innovation for industry
The Chilean government—which rolled out a national solar strategy in 2016—is banking on solar photovoltaic energy, and for good reason. Local electric utility rates are high, the cost of PV modules is coming down, and the country benefits from high solar irradiation. Based on current PV module yields, less than 1% of the surface of the Atacama Desert could supply 100% of the country's electricity.
But first, several challenges must be overcome. Liten, working in partnership with ISC Konstanz and Fraunhofer GH, recently presented the Atamos-TEC project to the Chilean government. The project would create a research institute in Antofagasta dedicated to developing a PV industry (covering modules and systems) that would respond to the region's environmental requirements. For example, Chile would need special PV equipment—bifacial modules with protection against UV rays and sand—designed to perform optimally in desert conditions. System design must also be adjusted to the maintenance operations and monitoring techniques implemented locally.
Ultimately, a local plant will be built to manufacture modules and systems and a pool of European and Chilean manufacturers will be set up to create a complete local solar-energy ecosystem. The "desert-specific" experience acquired over the course of the project in Chile will be applicable to other regions of the world.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.