Image: Corfo

The development of Chile’s new Institute of Clean Technologies (ITL) has been awarded to the US university consortium Associated Universities Inc.

The new institute, to be located in the Antofagasta region, will focus on research and development of solar energy, lithium and other minerals and advanced materials for example battery storage and green hydrogen.

The aim is to draw on the properties of the region, which is a centre for both solar energy development and mining, to promote regional and national development through support for sustainable energies and mining. The expectation is that by 2030 the institute will become a globally recognised technological reference and centre for innovation and entrepreneurship, according to a statement.

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“With this Institute, we will turn the Antofagasta region and Chile into a true laboratory to test cutting-edge technologies for sustainable energy and mining projects,” says Pablo Terrazas, executive vice president of Chile’s state production promotion agency Corfo.

“Sustainable reactivation is very important for the government and for that we must advance in our main industries with R&D in projects and fostering investment, local development and the generation of quality jobs.”

Associated Universities was formed as a non-profit organisation to establish and manage one of the US’s first federally funded R&D centres, Brookhaven National Laboratory. Subsequently the organisation has become involved in developing and operating numerous large scale multi-user research initiatives.

Among these is the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope, one of a number of major astronomical facilities sited in the vicinity of Antofagasta.

Associated Universities will undertake the construction, management, and operations of the new Institute. The investment will be $265 million over the next ten years, of which Associated Universities will contribute 46% with the rest from contracts through industrial development leader SQM from companies including Enel, AES Gener, Colbún and Enaex, among others.

After that period, the Institute will cover its own costs.