The 778MW Horizonte wind power project, located in the Antofagasta region of Chile, is claimed to be the biggest onshore wind farm under construction in Latin America.

Chilean electric utility, Colbun, is developing the project with an estimated investment of £621m ($850m).

Construction works started in December 2021 and the wind farm is expected to commence operations in 2024. At full capacity, the Horizonte wind power project is estimated to generate about 2,400 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity a year, which will be sufficient to power more than 700,000 Chilean households.

The wind farm is expected to reduce up to 1.2 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions a year.

Location and site details

The Horizonte onshore wind power project is located 130km north-east of the Taltal municipality and 80km east of the Paposo town in the Antofagasta region of Chile.

The project is being developed on a 454ha-site that forms part of 8,000ha of government-owned land earmarked for renewable energy projects in Taltal.

Horizonte onshore wind power project background

The Ministry of National Assets (MBN) of Chile awarded Colbun a 30-year concession to develop, construct and operate the Horizonte onshore wind power facility in December 2017.

It contemplated the project development to take four years to complete environmental and feasibility studies and permits, and an additional three years for the wind farm construction.

The feasibility study to assess the wind resource, as well as the basic engineering and environmental studies for the project, were conducted in 2019.

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Horizonte onshore wind power project was approved in August 2021.

Upon commissioning, the project is expected to increase the wind power generation capacity of the Antofagasta region by 70%.

Horizonte wind farm make-up

The 778MW onshore wind farm will be installed with 140 Enercon E-160 EP5 wind turbines, each of which will have a rated power output of 5.56MW.

Each gearless, variable speed wind turbine will feature a modular steel tower (MST) with hub height ranging from 90m to 110m, and a 160m-diameter rotor.

The power generated by the wind turbines will be gathered and transmitted through 48 medium-voltage inter-array cable circuits connecting two 220kV onsite substations.

The project also includes the construction of about 100km of internal roads and an operations building.

Power evacuation

The electricity generated by the Horizonte onshore wind farm will be evacuated into the Chilean power grid through two 220kV transmission lines including a 9.7km and a 15.8km line.

Power offtake

In October 2019, mining company BHP contracted Colbun to supply 3,000GWh of renewable electricity a year for its Escondida and Spence copper operations in Chile for a period of ten years starting from January 2022.

Contractors involved

Enercon, a wind turbine manufacturer based in Germany, was selected to supply its advanced EP5 platform wind turbines for the Horizonte onshore wind power project in December 2019.

Sigdo Koppers Engineering and Construction (SKIC) was contracted by Colbun for the balance of plant (BOP) construction works for the project in September 2021.

The contractual scope includes the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the transmission infrastructure for the wind farm, including two new substations, expansion of an existing substation, two 220kV transmission lines, as well as the buried medium-voltage cable network to connect the wind turbines with the substations.

Madeco by Nexans was subcontracted by SKIC to supply 840km of electrical cables for the Horizonte wind power project in March 2022. The cables will be manufactured at the Nexans plants in Chile and Peru.