21 January 2022


Pampa Elvira Solar, one of the largest solar thermal plants in the world, has displaced 85% of the fossil fuel by injecting clean heat into the copper electro-winning process at Codelco’s copper mine in Chile. This week, the Danish Ambassador to Chile visited Pampa Elvira solar thermal plant to see the impressive operation.

Pampa Elvira Solar in Chile is one of the largest solar thermal plants in the world. It is providing hot water for Coldeco’s copper mine in the north of the country. The operation has displaced 85 % of the fossil fuel previously used to heat water for the electro-winning process, leading to a greener production of copper and a reduction of 15,000 tons of CO2 annually.

The Danish Ambassador visits Pampa Elvira Solar
This week, the Danish Ambassador to Chile, Jens Godtfredsen, visited Pampa Elvira Solar to see the operation firsthand.

The solar plant covers ​​44,000 m2 (approx. 90 soccer fields) with 2,928 panels of 15 m2 each and a heat storage tank of 4,600 m3 – energy storage that enables 24 hour delivery of renewable energy. The installed capacity of the plant is 34 MWt, and its operation allows for the annual delivery of about 55,000 thermal MWh.

“Pampa Elvira Solar is a good example of the transformations towards sustainability that we want to promote from Denmark. Reducing the use of fossil fuels in emission-intensive sectors such as mining is key for the industry, and we see how their customers are increasingly asking for greater sustainability in the production chain. We are happy with the participation of Denmark through the Danish state investment fund IFU in this project, which undoubtedly contributes to the development of Chile.”

Jens Godtfredsen, Danish Ambassador to Chile, during his visit.

Danish technology is used
The consortium that built Pampa Elvira Solar in 2013 was formed by Energía Llaima (today Innergex) and the Danish Sunmark Corporation (today Arcon-Sunmark) that had developed the technology. IFU provided part of the financing on behalf of the Danish Climate Investment Fund, which is backed by the Danish state and large Danish pension funds.

“Pampa Elvira has been an example of innovation not only by replacing fossil energy with solar energy, but also because it has been able to deliver renewable energy 24 hours a day due to an innovative heat storage solution. Our commitment is to continue to provide 100% renewable thermal energy from our plant for the next few years, thus collaborating with Codelco in the energy transition that the country requires,” said Jaime Pino, general manager of Innergex in Chile.

“Over the last ten years, Pampa Elvira has demonstrated its relevance by reducing the carbon footprint of Codelco’s copper extraction and has allowed the company to be at the forefront in greening the supply chain. Going forward, we believe that continued cooperation will have a positive impact on Chile’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, as well as supporting Codelco’s continued green transition.”

Torben Huss, CEO of IFU.

Largest copper producer in the world
Coldeco is a Chilean state-owned mining company, and the largest producer of copper in the world.

Mauricio Fuentealba, Codelco’s Superintendent of Strategic Supplies and Infrastructure, was very pleased with the visit, mainly because of the importance of being able to share views:

“This project is a pioneer for Chile and for Codelco. It has given us several operational benefits, maintaining the temperature we need to be able to produce our cathode and thus be able to sell it on the market,” said the executive of Codelco, emphasizing that “the future lies in green and renewable energy; the opportunity is to seek competitiveness, especially regarding the fuel that is going to be displaced, because with that approach we all win. In other words, produce with green energy, seek the green cathode, but at the lowest cost, which is what we seek as a corporation to continue delivering profits to the state, new schools, hospitals, develop our economy and of course, contributing with everything that the country requires.”