Wind Of Change Blowing Across Chile

The newly inaugurated 115MW El Arrayán wind farm, Chile’s largest, presages a growth in non-conventional renewables.
Published: Thu 18 Sep 2014

The El Arrayán wind farm in Chile’s north-central Coquimbo region, which began full commercial operation in June, brings the country a step closer to achieving a 45% clean energy generation installation target over the decade 2014 to 2025.

This was the word from President Michelle Bachelet when she inaugurated the facility last month.

The US$300 million wind farm with 50 turbines is owned by Pattern Energy and Antofagasta Minerals. It supplies the latter's Los Pelambres copper and molybdenum mine.

El Arrayán also brings the number of renewables projects in the Coquimbo region to 15, including eight wind, four solar and three hydro projects.

Looking ahead

“We have reason to be optimistic, because this year there has been a significant development of non-conventional renewable energy projects in the country,” said President Bachelet. She stated that in the period from January to July 2014, 600MW of non-conventional renewables had come into operation, compared with just 291MW in all of 2013.

A further 14 projects with a combined capacity of 1,562MW and value of US$3.5 billion have been or are close to being approved for the Coquimbo region.

President Bachelet also expressed hope the El Arrayán project would become a powerful incentive for other mining companies to begin to opt for this type of energy in a market which presents major investment opportunity. [Engerati-Chile’s Mining Sector Boosts Energy Sector Opportunities]

New Energy Agenda

Chile’s new Energy Agenda launched in May is aimed to establish energy as a pillar of economic development and to strengthen the ‘social inclusion’ agenda.

Key goals include:

● Reducing the marginal costs of electricity during the period of the current government by 30% in the Central Interconnected System (SIC)

● Reducing the price of electricity supply bids for homes, businesses and small enterprises by 25% over the next decade

● Lowering the barriers for development of non-conventional renewable energy to achieve the 2025 45% installation target

● Promoting energy efficiency as an energy resource, with a 20% savings goal by 2025

● Designing a system to stabilize the price volatility of fuels.

In 2015, the plan is to develop a long term energy policy, with wide input from Chilean society.