Innovation at play at Enel’s Cerro Pabellon geothermal plant in Chile

Cerro Pabellon geothermal power plant, Chile (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 4 Jan 2018

Enel Green Power shares details on some innovative hybrid system integrating a solar plant with a lithium ion battery and hydrogen storage at its Cerro Pabellón geothermal power plant in the Atacama desert in Chile.

In an article published today, Enel Green Power shares some details on an innovative system installed at the Cerro Pabellón geothermal plant in the Atacama Desert in Chile, that integrates photovoltaic generation with a hybrid energy storage system based on a lithium ion battery and hydrogen storage. This allows the company to provide clean energy to the plant’s base camp 24/7.

On our planet, there are still countless remote and uninhabited places, but none compare to the Atacama Desert in the Antofagasta region of Chile. It’s located at 4,500 metres above sea level, it’s considered one of the most arid places in the world, temperatures vary between -20° at night and 30° during the day and, in some areas, it has not rained for centuries.

This corner of Mars catapulted to the Earth has been an open-air innovation laboratory for Enel Green Power for several years. It is home to Cerro Pabellón, the first geothermal plant in all of Latin America, a smart grid connected to a renewable plant and to an energy storage system that provides constant electricity to the small village of Ollagüe and, since January 2017, also a hybrid system that integrates a solar plant with a lithium ion battery and hydrogen storage.

Constant Innovation (Squared)

Cerro Pabellón has been a record plant since its debut: not only is it the first geothermal plant in Latin America, but it is also the plant powered by the steam of the earth built at the highest altitude in the world.

The hybrid storage system integrated with the photovoltaic field is the latest innovation connected to the plant. It was designed to provide clean energy 24/7 to the Cerro Pabellón base camp, which hosts Enel Green Power technicians working at the plant.

The project, completed in the first quarter of 2017, was officially inaugurated on 31 May and passed definitively to the management of our Operation & Maintenance team on 11 October.

“It’s a plant with pioneering innovation based on a 125-kWp photovoltaic system, a 132-kWh lithium ion battery and a 450-kWh hydrogen storage system.” – Daniele Consoli – Innovation Project Manager


Technology, hybridisation, sustainability

The plant is equipped with the most advanced technologies, in order to endure the hostile conditions in this corner of the southern hemisphere, which is made of desert, expanses of rocks and saltwater lakes. It is the perfect combination of technology, innovation and environmental sustainability.

The project created for the Cerro Pabellón base camp can function in both off-grid and on-grid modes and is managed by an advanced control system to optimise energy flows and to guarantee a constant supply clean energy.

The energy produced is completely emission-free, thanks to the innovative hybrid system of plug-and-play storage, which allows for easy integration with the photovoltaic plant.

“Thanks to the storage systems, we can guarantee grid stability and green energy supply 24/7, without having to use diesel generators.” – Daniele Consoli – Innovation Project Manager

The project created at Cerro Pabellón is the most recent piece in the great mosaic of EGP innovation carried out in the field of storage systems integrated with renewable technology.

The combination of storage and renewables is at the heart of experiments underway in Italy, in Catania and Potenza Pietragalla, and for the Ginostra project, a small town located on the southwest side of the island of Stromboli, where we expect to build a 150-kW photovoltaic generation plant. Thanks to the integration with a hybrid storage hydrogen battery, evolved from what is used at Cerro Pabellon, it will be possible to cover almost all of the community’s energy needs.

“We’ve added a further piece to the integration between innovation and sustainability, which we at Enel call Innovability.” – Gianluca Gigliucci – Head of Energy Storage Innovation


Source: Enel Green Power