Floating Solar Island Being Tested in Chile

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. put (something) to the test / pʊt tə ðə tɛst / (idiom) – to evaluate what someone or something is able to do or achieve

    Scientists will put the new device to the test to check if it works properly.

  2. convert / kənˈvɚt / (v) – to change into another form

    The device was able to convert light into energy.

  3. consumption / kənˈsʌmpʃən / (n) – the act of using up something

    The city’s water consumption keeps increasing because of the growing population.

  4. applaud / əˈplɑːd / (v) – to praise someone or something

    The mayor applauded the company’s effort to use renewable energy.

  5. follow suit / ˈfɑːloʊ suːt / (idiom) – to do the same thing that someone did

    As soon as the mobile company introduced its new product, other companies followed suit.


Read the text below.

A mining company is putting an island of solar panels to the test in a mining site in Chile.

Anglo American is running the test for one year at its Los Bronces mine. The island of solar panels, or devices that convert sunlight to electricity, floats on a pond. It is 1,200 square meters wide and consists of 256 solar panels.

The company installed the floating island in its effort to reduce carbon dioxide emission. Operating a mining business usually consumes huge amounts of polluting energy. However, the use of solar power minimizes that need as the panels have the capacity to generate about 86 kilowatts of clean energy.

In addition, the floating solar panels are expected to decrease the mine’s water consumption. The island covers the pond from the sun’s heat, which can, in turn, lower the water temperature and reduce evaporation by 80%. More water will be preserved in the process, and this may significantly lessen the usual amount of fresh water used in mining operations.

The Chilean /ˈtʃɪlijən/ government applauds the company’s initiative. Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica considers the solar panel island an excellent idea. He said that it is a good model for the mining industry and hopes that other companies will follow suit.

On another note, Anglo American is open to expanding the use of the solar panel island. If the testing proves successful, the company hopes to cover up to 40 hectares of the pond with solar panels. Moreover, the firm hopes to use similar floating solar panels in its other mining sites.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How do you think the environment would benefit if other mining companies used floating solar islands? Explain.
• Do you think floating solar islands should also be used in other bodies of water (e.g. sea, river)? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Aside from using huge amounts of water and energy, what are the other environmental effects of mining? Explain.
• In your opinion, can mining ever be environmentally friendly? Why or why not?