187.5 TWh of Solar PV Power for Chilean Mining in 25 years

«National scale» Solar PV consumption in Mining


In this article we will discuss the potential power production due to photovoltaic solar energy at the Chilean region of «Norte Grande». We will also see how these productions  are compared with state scale electricity demand. Northern Chile mining  seems to turn the leading region worldwide on solar energy for the next 15-25 years.

In late 2013 the team collaborators of renewables4mining conducted a research for technical and financial modeling with the of 67 plants and photovoltaic projects pipeline at tnorthern Chile mining regions (ongoing, approved and / or pending final approval solar PV projects).


Based on the current active portafolio of projects on solar PV, the northern Chilean Mining will consume 187.47 TWh in the period from 2015 to 2040. This amount of electricity exceeds 37% the annual electricity consumption in Argentina (117.38 TWh, source: IEA 2012).


An epic transformation towards solar energy

Next 25 years, the mining sector in northern Chile will undergo a fundamental transformation over the structure of energy supply unmatched in the world mining market. The input of NCRE (Non-Conventional Renewable Energies) as solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy will make Chilean miners in one of the most militant industrial sectors against Peak Oil and Climate Change.

According to my experience,  oil and mining geologist (since 23 years ago), and during the last 10 year working in renewables, I am able to affirm the global mining sector will be starring in the migration from the Business As Usual (BAU) consumption of fossil fuels electricity generation towards, step by step, NCRE.

Mining in northern Chile will become the archetype and main global pilot project for mining regions in order to demonstrate this significative journey to renewables.

Supported by this team of expert collaborators, we have conducted a research about the impact on the implementation of solar energy in the region of highest world concentration of copper mining. As a result of it will publish a collection of twenty articles on our web blog (www.r4mining.com) in order to determine the most appropriate KPI and the mining cluster raise awareness of the importance of this evolution.


We estimate that 0.5% of current world copper production is linked to the demand of solar & wind energy facilities. Around 2030 it can reach to 5% -7% of global demand. Mining for Renewables or Renewables for mining?


Mission: Make «Love Not War» between NCRE and Fossils Fuels

Before we wish to make the following observation:


 The right approach is not to create a war between renewable and non-renewable energies, this is a sterile debate.


This is the best 24/7 solution to the demand on this 8% – 12% global primary energy consumed by world mining which, currently, it’s working mainly supported by fossil fuels. The winning bet seems to be on hybrid systems (fossil and renewable fuels. In the north of Chile, we talk mainly solar energy.

The debate will probably evolve in 10 or 15 years with the arrival of «grid parity» for electricity storage systems. For the part that concerns us, we will get support with serious, honest and authoritative information on energy efficiency and renewable energy for the mining industry and oil.

Renewable energy must be profitable as well as mining and oil must be ethical, otherwise There will not be synergy, but war, then we recommend … do for love, not war.



«Norte Grande» Mining, Argentina or Bolivia power demand?

One advantage of analyzing the statistics of the energy market of the Great Northern Chile lies in the fact that, currently, 90% of the energy demand is led by the mining and metals processing.

Moreover, the increase in new demand, for which 67 are developing photovoltaic projects is virtually 100% directed towards mining . So we can associate this photovoltaic demand «demand 100 % mine .»

Then, Norte Grande (composed by 4 regions), will consume 187.47 TWh of PV electricity in 25 years which means to exceed a 37 % the current annual power demand for Argentina.

During 20 years the Chilean mining industry will demand a quantity of PV electricity which will surpass the 10% of power PV world production during  2014-2018 for the new solar PV facilities installed (based IEA 2013 forecast) .


On annual basis and arguing the facilities begin to operate in 2015, the Great Northern Chilean produce an annual average of 7.5 TWh Solar PV (annual average of 25 years data). In other words, the annual consumption of solar thermal Chilean mining will surpass 20% of Bolivia’s total electric demand. The solar PV energy consumption for Chilean mining in 4 years matches the total power consumption of Bolivia over 5 years



Fig. Produccion PV 25 años.001


We will now address how it would affect the installation of photovoltaic projects in each of the four regions of the mining cluster of northern Chile: Arica, Tarapacá. Antofagasta and Atacama.


(I) Arica – Paniracota Region power demand equals the Guyana annual consumption

In the case of the northern region bordering Peru and Arica capital, annual production over 25 years is estimated 618, 8 GWh by 8 solar parks with an average size of 55 MWp; making a photovoltaic park capacity of 442 MWp Total.

The annual solar electricity consumption of mining in Arica be equivalent to the current total power consumption of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

The solar PV mining cluster of Arica has 8 photovoltaic solar plants an average size of 55,28 MW and a total capacity of 442 MW.


(II) Tarapacá Region, twice the annual demand for Mauritania!!

Mining region of Tarapacá will demand annually 1.17 TWh of solar electricity for 25 years.

What is twice the power consumption of the African second largest producer of iron ore, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

To meet this demand, the region will have a photovoltaic plant of total capacity of 795 MWp in 17 photovoltaic parks with an average size of 46.7 MWp.


(III) Antofagasta Region,  power consumption close to the Republic of Panamá

Mining region of Antofagasta an annual basis will consume 4.76 TWh of solar electricity, 119 TWh in 25 years.
This annually amount equals to the 80% of total electricity consumption in the Republic of Panama (according to IEA 2012).
The solar PV cluster of Antofagasta has 31 photovoltaic solar plants an average size of 104 MW and a total capacity of 3,226.8 MW.


(IV) Atacama Region, 3 to 4 times the consumption of the Republic of Haiti!!

The southern mining region of North Grande, Atacama, annually will require 922.8 GWh of solar PV power during 25 years.

This figure represents is a demand for 3 or 4 times the current annual total electricity demand of the Republic of Haiti.

The solar PV cluster of Antofagasta will be composed with 11 photovoltaic solar plants an average size of 53,37 MW and a total capacity of 609 MW.



In annual basis, "Norte Grande" Región will demand a quantity of solar PV electricity comparable to the sum of consumptions of one Guyana, twice Mauritania, 80% Panamá and four times Haiti together.



«Norte Grande» Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCoE)

In the next article we will focus on Average Cost of Solar Photovoltaic Electricity components and CAPEX, OPEX, finance costs and taxes.

But We already advanced some interesting facts are the average costs of financial models based on two region, the first to take into account the financial leverage (Leveraged Model) and a second without it (Turnkey Model):

LCoE for the Leveraged Model will be: 122.5 USD/MWh.

LCoE for the Turnkey Model will be: 71.2 USD/MWh.


Today the average cost of electricity for mining in this region situates between 75 and 120 USD / MWh but tended to rise at higher average than 5% over the next 15 years. if we consider this approach correct, the fossil fuels power generation LCoE in 15 years will exceed 400 USD / MWh, In comparison, the off-grid diesel LCoE today is about 730 USD/MWh at Norte Grande, Chile.






Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Article Tags

Website Comments