AtaMos Tec Launch: Public-private consortium seeks to develop solar technologies in Chile
CLP $13 billion (around USD $21,5 million) will be invested over six years to create or adapt optimal solar technologies to be used in the Atacama Desert, given the unique features of Chile’s Northern area and thanks to the contribution of the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO), other partner institutions, and companies.
The investment, which also entails strengthening a network of suppliers, the installation of a panel assembly factory, a communications and marketing strategy, and other areas kick off the AtaMos Tec Program created by the Chilean Solar Energy Research Center (SERC Chile), whose main beneficiary is the Universidad de Antofagasta. The program will receive around CLP $8 billion (about USD $13 million) from CORFO, and will become the largest consortium program ever created, with the highest number of participants from both the public and private sector.
“AtaMos Tec has managed to reach a domestic and international consensus between the public, private, and academic sector for developing a solar industry that seeks to take advantage of the opportunity we have to develop technologies for desert areas in our natural laboratory, which is the driest desert in the world,” said Rodrigo Mancilla, Executive Director of the Chilean Solar Committee and the consortium’s technical counterpart.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of SERC Chile, Dr. Rodrigo Palma, noted the historical moment of the launching of this scientific initiative. “AtaMos Tec marks a before and after for solar development in Chile, where collective efforts came together to successfully create new technologies, which ultimately will have a positive impact on people’s quality of life.”
It was also proposed for AtaMos Tec to implement a program for developing and strengthening local R&D&I capacities, transfer knowledge, and train advanced, professional, and technical human capital. This also considers encouraging a coordinated Chilean scientific community to face the challenge.
In this regard, Dr. Edward Fuentealba, Head of the Energy Development Center of the Universidad de Antofagasta, described this program and the upcoming creation of the Solar Photovoltaic Institute in the Atacama Region as milestones for the development of the solar industry in Chile.
“I compare AtaMos Tec with what could have happened if we had had a research institute during the mining boom in Antofagasta decades ago. We expect many benefits, not only from a scientific and industrial point of view, but also environmental, because by producing energy at lower costs, CO2 emissions will also decrease,” he said.
By lowering the cost of producing solar energy thanks to the technological development driven by AtaMos Tec, the mining industry is expected to be more competitive and also develop an added value chain, thereby creating a cluster and opening up possibilities for SMEs, which would also impact job creation and quality of life.
AtaMos Tec was launched in the auditorium of the Huanchaca Ruins in Antofagasta with representatives of partner institutions, both from the private and public sector.