Chacayes named ‘Best Hydro Project of the Year’

11 December 2012

Leading renewable energy company Pacific Hydro received the “Best Hydro Project of the Year” award for its Chacayes run-of-river hydro plant in Chile at the Renewable Energy Projects of the Year Awards in Orlando, USA.

Promoted by news outlet Renewable Energy World, the awards highlight the industry’s best achievements across categories including solar, nuclear, wind, carbon, geothermal, gas, biomass and hydro. It recognises innovation during the construction of renewable energy projects and the sustainability and environmental features of those projects. A total of 98 projects were assessed by 15 editors from independent trade publications.

“We’re very proud to be recognised for the work of our multinational and multidisciplinary team. The project was developed by our teams from Chile and Australia as well as our Italian partners, Astaldi, and companies such as Hatch,” said Rick Fletcher, executive manager hydro projects at Pacific Hydro.

A number of environmental and community relations initiatives were developed during the construction of Chacayes.

These included using Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) technology to increase efficiency, reduce noise and disturbances; the utilisation of low height intakes, instead of large dams, in line with the Kyoto Protocol standards; construction of a tunnel instead of a free flow canal to connect the two intakes of the project to minimise the impact on a National Reserve; and continuous monitoring of the native fauna during the construction of the project and also during the operations phase.

The company also developed a nursery fully managed by community members for reforestation, which created training and employment opportunities and allowed the production of approximately 400,000 native plants and trees.

The US$450 million Chacayes plant was inaugurated in October 2011. It has an installed capacity of 111MW and produces enough clean energy to supply more than 300,000 Chilean homes. The plant was recently accredited by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to issue carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

Around this same time last year Chacayes received the ‘Environmental Initiative of the Year’ Award at the International Tunnelling Awards 2011. Earlier in 2012, Chacayes was the location chosen by Chile’s President, Sebastián Piñera, for the launch of its National Energy Strategy 2012-2030, which outlines the future development of the Chilean energy matrix.