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Floating solar panels to power mines, save water

Chile is testing a floating island of solar panels as a way to generate clean energy and reduce water loss at mine operations, a cornerstone of the Andean country’s economy that uses huge amounts of electricity and water. The experimental Las Tortolas power-generating island is being run by the giant Anglo-American mining company at its Los Bronces mine, and the initiative comes as the government pushes to put Chile at the forefront of renewable energy use in Latin America and the world.

According to Fox News, the 111.5sqm (1200-square-feet) array of solar panels floats in the middle of a pond, which is used to contain the refuse from mining, known as tailings. It is expected that its shadow will lower the water temperature and reduce evaporation by 80 per cent. Thus, the mine would retain more of that water for its operations and could reduce the amount of fresh water it pumps in the dry mountainous region where water is a scarce commodity.

The island of solar panels could give purpose to mine refuse in Chile by using them to generate clean energy and reduce water evaporation (Credit: Fox News)

“With this system, we can make our fresh water consumption more efficient, in line with our goal of re-imagining mining and reducing Anglo-American’s fresh water consumption by 50 per cent by 2030, as well as the CO2 emissions by producing non-polluting energy,” said Patricio Chacana, Los Bronces’ vice president of operations.

The island of solar panels could give purpose to mine refuse in Chile by using them to generate clean energy and reduce water evaporation (Credit: Fox News)

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