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From arid desert to sustainable powerhouse

ABB dry-type transformers support the largest photovoltaic power plant in South America

In 2015 the renewable energy arm of the Spanish conglomerate, ACCIONA, needed a supplier to provide essential electrical equipment for the large-scale El Romero photovoltaic solar power plant under construction in the Atacama desert of Chile, about 645 km north of the capital, Santiago.  

The El Romero PV plant will generate maximum power of 246 megawatt peak (196 MW nominal), deploying more than 776,000 solar modules across 280 hectares of high desert. ACCIONA Energía wanted to install the electrical equipment in 3-MW power station boxes that could be distributed throughout the vast plant to ensure the PV generation is turned into grid quality electricity.

El Romero is the largest PV power plant built in the Atacama desert to date.  It is the highest capacity PV plant in Latin America and is capable of supplying the power needed for 240,000 Chilean homes.  It will also power Google's data center in Chile.

ABB assembled a team to find an optimal solution that would satisfy ACCIONA’s needs, and later signed a contract to provide 60, 3-MW power stations that are exclusively equipped with ABB power products. The scope of supply includes 180 units of PVS800 solar inverters, 60 units of 3.6 MW dry transformers, 60 medium voltage (MV) switchgears, 60 UPS systems, 60 control cabinets with programmable logic controller (PLC), and a central control cabinet with PLC.

ACCIONA will benefit from the multiple advantages of ABB dry-type transformers, such as ease of installation, and reduced costs for civil works; a compact design ideal for containerized installation; proven mechanical robustness for withstanding seismic events; and oil-free environmental benefits.

These robust, vacuum cast coil dry-type transformers are rated 3,600 kilovolts ampere (kVA) 33,000/415 volts (V), and are designed for outdoor operation.

Main data

Customer ACCIONA
Product 60 vacuum cast coil dry-type transformers
Application Seismic-proof solar transformer for outdoor operation
Power supply 3,600 kVA (3.6 MW), 33,000/415 V (IP24)
Location Atacama desert, Chile
Delivery date Third quarter of 2016
Commissioning Mid-2017