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Chile: inauguration of the first 100% solar-powered radar station

A first in the field of air traffic control has just taken place in Calama, in Chile's Atacama Desert, with the inauguration of a radar station supplied by Thales that is 100% solar-powered. 

Developed by Thales for the Chilean Civil Aviation Authority, this solar-powered radar station comprises a Star NG advanced primary radar, a Mode S secondary radar and an ADS-B ground station, for monitoring air traffic in the Calama area.

Combined, the two radars meet all the operational requirements of both civil and military air traffic control, and detect both slow- and fast-moving targets such as helicopters, commercial aircraft and jets.

A twofold innovation

This world first is made possible by the very high levels of sunshine in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, where the mining town of Calama and its international airport, El Loa, are located. 

Located at an altitude of more than 3,500 metres, the radar station has a maximum production capacity of around 960 kWh per day, covering an area of 10,000 m2.

The innovation comes both from the 340 solar panels that provide alternative energy to keep the radar station running smoothly, and from the energy management system. The use of advanced battery technology and back-up generators secures the radar station's operations, preventing power failures and shortages.

To find out more: Thales and DGAC operate the world’s first solar-powered Air Traffic Control radar station in Calama, Chile | Thales Group