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Construction starts on 33 MW expansion of Cerro Pabellon geothermal plant in Chile

Cerro Pabellon geothermal power plant, Chile (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Alexander Richter 28 Aug 2019

Geotermica del Norte in Chile, a joint venture of Enel Green Power and ENAP, has started construction of its 33 MW expansion at the Cerro Pabellon geothermal power plant in the North of Chile.

As announced in Chile, Geotérmica del Norte, a joint venture between Enel Green Power and the National Petroleum Company (ENAP) began the construction of the third 33 MW geothermal generation unit in Cerro Pabellón. This unit has a CAPEX of approximately USD 100 million and is expected to enter into operation in the second half of 2020. Once the expansion is complete, Cerro Pabellón will have a total capacity of 81 MW.

Cerro Pabellón currently has 48 MW of installed capacity in operation, which added to the third unit will complete an installed capacity of 81 MW. With this, Cerro Pabellón will produce a total of 600 GWh per year, avoiding emissions of 470,000 tons / year of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Guido Cappeti, general manager of Geothermal of the North referred to the project: “We are taking advantage of our experience in geothermal energy, as well as the technical characteristics of production of the existing units of Cerro Pabellón and its transmission line, to expand the capacity of the plant and further exploit the potential of geothermal sources in Chile. The construction of this new unit confirms our role as pioneers of geothermal energy and our commitment to continue investing in its development, given the important role it can play in diversifying and increasing the sustainability of Chile’s generation matrix. ”

The new unit will be of binary technology for high enthalpy, which is the same as existing units (installed by Ormat Technologies). During construction the peak of personnel will reach 700 people and local SMEs will be hired for various services, thus contributing to local development.

The plant is located in the Atacama Desert in the Antofagasta Region, at a height above sea level of 4,500 meters. It is one of a kind in South America and the highest in the world.

ENEL is the largest electricity company in Chile according to its installed capacity, with a total of approximately 7500 MW, of which 4,700 correspond to renewable, of these 3,500 MW of hydroelectric power, 600 MW of electricity, 500 MW of solar and approximately 40 MW geothermal. In Chile, the group also operates in the electricity distribution segment through Enel Distribution, serving a total of 1.9 million customers. It also participates in the advanced energy solutions business through Enel X Chile.

ENAP is a key public company in the energy development of Chile and the territories in which it operates. Its business lines are Exploration and Production of Hydrocarbons (E&P); Refining and Marketing (R&C), which operates the Aconcagua (Fifth Region), Biobío (Eighth Region) and Gregorio (Magallanes) refineries, where crude is processed and converted into fuel; and Gas y Energía (G&E), which is responsible for developing the business of electricity generation based on gas and other non-conventional renewable sources. Its operations cover assets in Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and Egypt. The total number of ENAP workers reaches 3,700 people globally.

Source: Our sister publication PiensaGeotermia, official ENEL release (pdf)