Call to harness wind power in southern tip of Chile

Bnamericas Published: Saturday, April 26, 2014

The head of the labor union of Chile's state-owned oil company Enap called on the government to discuss wind energy development in the southernmost region of Magallanes.

In a statement, Alejandro Avendaño Gallardo noted that the region's capital, Punta Arenas, is the world's fourth-windiest city.

Harnessing the energy from that wind would reduce energy costs and pollution in the region, Avendaño said, noting that regional utility Edelmag consumes 350,000m3 of gas daily.

He cited the example of Chile's Coquimbo region, or region IV, which generates a country-leading 282MW of electricity from wind turbines despite average wind speeds barely above the minimum required for them to work.

Turbines require wind speeds of between 13 and 90km/h to operate, Avendaño said, adding that in Magallanes wind speeds are usually between 35 and 122km/h.

The region's relatively low energy consumption also makes it an ideal candidate for the technology, Avendaño said.

Principal cities Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales and Porvenir consume 50MW, 5MW and 2MW, respectively.

By comparison, two wind parks with capacities of 50MW each recently came online in Uruguay, where the government plans to generate 90% of its electric power from renewable sources by 2016.

Puerto Williams, which consumes 0.5MW, would be a good pilot candidate for wind energy in Magallanes, Avendaño said, proposing that wind power could drastically lower the city's gas costs by providing not just electricity, but also heating.

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