Pacific Hydro granted environmental permit for its first wind farm in Chile

3 December 2012

After a six-month review, the Environmental Assessment Commission of Chile’s Coquimbo region unanimously approved the Environmental Impact Declaration of the Punta Sierra wind farm. The108MW project will be Pacific Hydro’s first wind farm in the country and will require an estimated investment of US$ 250 million.

“We are very pleased with this outcome as this unanimous approval endorses the strength of our project and represents a further step towards diversification of our renewable energy investments in Chile,” said Alfredo Zañartu, executive manager Development.

Located southwest of the town of Ovalle (320 km to the north of Santiago), the project will generate 310 GWh/year, enough electricity to supply 175,000 homes. Its operations will abate approximately 200,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the equivalent of taking more than 80,000 cars off the roads.

Based on a four-year wind measurement program and advances in wind power generation technology, the Punta Sierra wind farm is expected to have a capacity factor of 33%.

Next steps

Pacific Hydro will start a tender process to appoint a wind turbine supplier and contractors for civil and electrical works in early 2013.

“Initially our idea is to sell the energy generated by the Punta Sierra wind farm to the Chilean spot market, but we are open to assess other alternatives,” said Zañartu. “The mining sector is an important driver for development in the Coquimbo Region so mining companies could be potential clients.”

“We will also continue working on the project finance requirements to start construction works,” added Zañartu.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2013 and the project could be supplying energy to the Central Interconnected System (SIC) with its first turbines in late 2014, prior to completion in early 2015.

Pacific Hydro has already submitted a letter of early consideration to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to commence the registration process to issue and trade in carbon credits from the project.

Pacific Hydro pioneered the wind industry in Australia in 2001 with the construction of the country’s first commercial wind farm and since then has built a solid track record of developing, delivering on time and on budget, and operating wind farms. The company has six operating wind farms in Australia and two in Brazil, in addition to a number of development projects.