Turbines to turn on massive wind farm in Northern Chile

Following four months of construction, Enel Green Power’s Valle de los Vientos project in Antofagasta is set to whip up 90 megawatts of clean electricity.

Enel Wind Power will inaugurate its second major wind farm in Chile in the coming weeks, further diversifying the country’s energy matrix and tapping into the Andean Nation’s unrivalled renewable energy potential.

Having recently hit the start button on its Talinay wind farm, the Italian multinational will contribute a total of 180 megawatts of wind energy to the country’s grid when the US$ 200 million Valle de los Vientos project’s blades start spinning. The company’s plans for Chile do not stop there — Enel has two new solar projects and a third,a US$ 190 million 99 megawatt wind farm in the pipeline, totalling a further 161 megawatts. Meanwhile the green energy giant is exploring the possibility of geothermal projects with 100 megawatts of potential.

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 190 MW in 2012.

Enel’s projects join the likes of other mega-wind farms in the country, including Parque Eólico El Arrayán in Coquimbo. Scheduled for completion in 2014, the wind farm will have a 115 megawatt capacity — enough energy to power 200,000 homes.

In a bid to temper reliance on imported fossil fuels, Chile’s legislators passed a law this year requiring 20 percent of the country’s energy to be generated from non-conventional renewables in just over a decade. Harnessing the power of the wind and the Atacama Desert’s world-leading potential for solar energy are key to these plans, and Chile is on course — a Bloomberg report released this year showed the country is one of eight emerging nations worldwide to receive over US$ 250 million in investments in renewable power in 2012.