Energy Storage

03 Dec 2021

Chile’s Colbun Couples Storage with PV for Reliability and Decarbonisation

03 Dec 2021  by   

In Chile, energy generator Colbun has announced an $11 million investment to build an 8MW/32MWh energy storage system next to a new 230MWp solar PV facility in the Atacama region.

Image credit: Wärtsilä

Technology firm Wärtsilä will provide batteries for the system and energy management platform for real-time control and optimisation of the plant.

The project is Colbun’s first energy storage system and Wärtsilä’s first storage order in Latin America, a development that shows a change in the net-zero direction of the region’s energy sector.

The project falls under efforts by Colbun to increase its capacity of renewables in the energy mix and to ensure that renewable energy use can be shifted to when it is most needed.

In addition to helping Colbun to address renewables curtailment, the storage system is expected to help the utility to improve its revenues.

The energy storage plant is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2022, and once operational will provide frequency response and firm capacity services for energy reliability for some 80,000 consumers.

Both the storage and the solar PV are expected to help Colbun to achieve its 2050 carbon neutrality target after the company invested $850 million in developing the 778MW Horizonte project, the largest wind energy project in Latin America, according to Colbun.

Colbun plans to add 7GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and in support of the target has issued a $600 million green bond for renewable energy and other infrastructure projects.

Christoph Perathoner, Construction Manager, Colbun, said: “One of the current challenges of wind and solar generation is intermittency. But by incorporating electrical storage alternatives, such as the energy storage project associated with our Diego de Almagro solar plant, we can solve for fluctuations in generation and capture the full value of renewable sources. By adding energy storage, Colbun seeks to provide robustness to the Chilean national electrical system.”

Andrew Tang, vice president of energy storage and optimisation at Wärtsilä, added: “Chile has become a leader in renewable energy and the country has one of the most ambitious and economical decarbonisation plans in the world.”

According to a 2021 report by Wärtsilä, Front-Loading Net Zero, achieving a 100 percent carbon-neutral power system in Chile before 2050 is possible with the buildout of renewable energy and short- and long-term energy storage.

As coal-fired power plants in Chile are phased out by 2040, and more renewable energy capacity is integrated, battery storage systems will play an instrumental role in daily shifting of solar energy and providing ancillary services that maintain grid reliability.

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