CHILE: PLANS FOR UNIQUE POWER PLANT IN ATACAMA DESERT
A hydropower station in the desert? In Chile this seeming contradiction is becoming a reality. Operator Valhalla has obtained all the required permits and financing to get the project on the way.
According to Technology Review, the hydropower station – the world’s only one of its kind – is to be put up in the Atacama desert. This region is one of the hottest and driest ones on earth – some parts have not seen a drop of rain in years. That being the case, the required water needs to be pumped from the nearby Pacific coast to a natural recess in the surrounding mountainous terrain, from where it passes to the power house by way of a sloping conduit. Solar energy will supply the electricity required for operating the pumps. The facility is expected to provide a capacity of around 300 MW. The hydro-energy generated here will ensure independence from fossil fuels for three provinces. In total, the costs of the project amount to US$ 400m.