The joint venture Geotérmica del Norte has begun construction of 33MW expansion at the Cerro Pabellón geothermal power plant in Chile


Image: Cerro Pabellón geothermal plant in Chile. Photo: Courtesy of Enel Chile S.A.

Geotérmica del Norte, a joint venture between Enel Green Power Chile (EGPC) and Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP), a state-owned Chilean company, has started construction of the 33MW expansion at the Cerro Pabellón geothermal power plant in Chile.

Being built with an estimated investment of $100m (£81.8m), the geothermal expansion could begin operations in the second half of next year. The 33MW expansion will add to the already existing two units generating 48MW, bringing the total capacity of the Cerro Pabellón to 81MW.

Once operational, the expanded geothermal plant will generate up to 600GWh of clean energy, while avoiding nearly 468,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering into the atmosphere.

Geotérmica del Norte general manager Guido Cappetti said: “We are leveraging on our expertise in geothermal energy, as well as on the technical characteristics of Cerro Pabellón’s existing units and its transmission line, to extend the plant’s capacity and further harness the potential of Chile’s geothermal sources.

“The construction of this new unit confirms our role as a pioneer in 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 mix.”

Cerro Pabellón is the highest geothermal plant in South America

Cerro Pabellón is claimed to be the only geothermal plant in South America and is the highest of its kind in the world, located 4500m above the sea level, on the Atacama Desert in the Antofagasta Region.

The new unit will use high-enthalpy binary cycle technology, similar to the existing already existing units. During the construction phase, nearly 700 jobs could be created and local businesses will be hired, adding to the economic development of the surrounding communities, the company said.

In July, Enel, through its Enel Generación Chile had signed an agreement to supply mining company AngloAmerican with 3TWh of renewable every year over a 10-year period to meet its mining operation needs in Chile.

Under the agreement, which will take effect in 2021, the renewable energy supplied by Enel Generación Chile will help AngloAmerican reduce its total CO2 emissions in the country by over 70%.