Chile's Bachelet inaugurates 45MW Acciona wind farm

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet presided over the official launch of Acciona Energía's 45MW Punta Palmeras wind farm in Coquimbo region (IV).

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the town of Canela, Punta Palmeras is the Spanish company's first wind farm to enter operation in Chile. It will inject 124GWh/y into the central SIC grid, supplying local energy giant Colbún through a 12-year power purchase agreement.

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The operation boasts 15 Acciona turbines, each with a capacity of 3MW, whose annual output will equal the consumption needs of 60,000 Chilean homes.

Punta Palmeras began injecting energy into the SIC in October.

"It's now a fact, no longer just a promise, that Chile is advancing on a firm base toward diversifying its energy matrix," Bachelet said on Tuesday, standing before the five turbines closest to the sea.

Acciona's Punta Palmeras wind farm will inject 124GWh/y into the SIC. (CREDIT: BNamericas)

Wind output on the SIC increased 121% to 1.21TWh in 2014, according to data from grid operator CDEC-SIC.

Renewables accounted for more than 10% of Chile's power generation in November, state renewable energy promotion and innovation center Cifes said, with wind leading the way.

"I think that the explosion of renewables that happened in Chile in 2013-14 is part of the work that has been happening probably for the past six, seven years of trying to identify and [overcome] ... barriers that were blocking the sector from really bursting and growing as we expected," Acciona Energía Chile CEO José Ignacio Escobar told BNamericas at the event in Canela.

The majority of Chile's new wind capacity, including the 115MW El Arrayán and 110MW Los Cururos farms, are located in Coquimbo region.

Escobar said that the improvement and expansion of the transmission infrastructure will be crucial to maintaining the pace of investment in NCRE projects.

Acciona was awarded supply blocks totaling 600GWh/y for the 2018-32 period in Chile's last regulated market power supply auction held by power distributors and national energy commission CNE.

Acciona will invest 400mn euros (US$471mn) in the construction of wind farms and PV solar plants totaling 255MW during 2015-18 in order to fulfill the supply commitment.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet arrives at the Punta Palmeras inauguration. (CREDIT: BNamericas)