Chile’s efforts to diversify its energy matrix recieved a huge boost last month, as renewable energy company Enel Green Power (EGP) won a public tender to develop a giant wind farm in the Antofagasta region.
EGP has been granted the exclusive right to build and operate a wind project, named Sierra Gorda Este, of up to 130 MW. The company already has 182 MW of installed energy capacity in Chile, split evenly across wind and hydropower operations.
Wind power has grown rapidly in Chile over the last decade. In 2002, the country was generating just 1 MW of energy from the renewable energy source. Rapid development in the sector saw an increase to 20 MW in 2007, and further growth has seen the country’s wind energy generation rocket to today’s figure of 190 MW.
“We are extremely pleased about such an accomplishment, as Chile represents for us a very important market with a solid group footprint and excellent growth opportunities,” Francesco Starace, CEO of EGP, said in a statement. “The successful participation in this tender is a major step forward in the implementation of our strategy for Latin America. With this project, we have covered close to 90 percent of our planned wind development in the country during the 2013-2017 period.”
Due to a strong economy and growth in the mining sector, analysts believe that Chile will need to add 8,000 MW to today’s energy matrix of 17,000 MW by 2020. Recognizing Chile’s massive potential in renewable energy resources, the government has made steps to diversify the energy matrix that is currently reliant on dam generated power.
Chile’s theoretical capacity for wind generated power has been placed at 40,000 MW. If current plans for wind farm development receive environmental clearance, and projects gain financial backing, Chile could potentially be generating 2,000 MW of energy from wind power in the next decade.
In addition to its great potential for wind power, Chile has a higher capacity for tide power and solar energy than any country on earth.