First Solar’s 141MW Solar Plant in Chile Becomes World’s 1st to Deliver Grid Services

US-headquartered First Solar said that its 141 MW Luz del Norte photovoltaic (PV) power plant has become the world’s first known utility-scale solar facility licensed to deliver ancillary grid services commercially.

August 31, 2020. By Manu Tayal

US-headquartered First Solar said that its 141 MW Luz del Norte photovoltaic (PV) power plant has become the world’s first known utility-scale solar facility licensed to deliver ancillary grid services commercially.

Chile’s independent system operator (ISO), Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional, recently added Luz del Norte to its portfolio of large-scale power generators that are approved to deliver a range of grid services, including automatic generation control (AGC).

In addition to generating renewable energy, this facility is now being used by the ISO to manage the frequency of Chile’s electricity system, helping ensure the grid’s reliability and stability.

Until now, grid operators worldwide had to rely exclusively on thermoelectric or hydroelectric power plants to respond to changes in load by balancing generation.

Commenting on the development, Carlos Barria, head of the Forecast and Regulatory Analysis, and Environment and Climate Change at Chile’s Ministry of Energy, said that “we are very pleased with this achievement as this increases the spectrum of technologies capable of providing the services needed to maintain a safe and reliable operation of the electrical system.”

“These demonstrated capabilities are in line with our plans in integrating higher levels of renewable energy in our grid, which will enable us to achieve our goal to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2040 and to be carbon neutral by 2050,” Barria added.

“Chile’s visionary approach to designing its future grid allowed us to take a proven concept and implement a commercially and technically viable solution,” said Troy Lauterbach, Senior Vice President, First Solar Energy Services.

Lauterbach further added that “as utility companies and ISOs around the world grapple with the challenge of decarbonizing their grids, Luz del Norte has come to represent the realizable potential of large-scale solar. By delivering a combination of clean electricity and no-carbon grid services, it demonstrates the value of investing in large-scale solar.”

Luz del Norte is one of the largest PV plants in Chile. The facility was commissioned in 2016 and generates enough electricity to power 50,000 average Chilean homes with the lowest carbon footprint and no water use.

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