Privately owned Irish energy company Mainstream Renewable Power recently reached its funding target for the US$ 70 million Negrete Cuel Wind Farm in southern Chile, and has commenced construction of the 30 MW energy project.
Mainstream has received US$ 52 million in funds from the China Development Bank allowing the project to go ahead, adding to the 2,300 MW of current and planned wind and solar projects the company is developing in Chile.
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’s energy generation rocket to today’s figure of 190 MW.
“I am delighted to announce Mainstream’s fifth project to go into construction across three continents in a period of just six months,” Mainstream’s Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor said. “Since entering the Chilean market back in 2009 Mainstream has built a very strong and growing portfolio of wind and solar projects, many of which are in the mid to late development stages.”
Prompted by 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.