HIDROAYSÉN. The HidroAysén project is being developed for Centrales Hidroeléctricas Aysén, a joint venture between Endesa Chile (51%) and a local company, Colbún (49%). The project envisages the construction of five hydroelectric plants in Aysén, in Chile’s Patagonian region, and will involve 2,750 MW of hydroelectric power being added to the Chilean grid, and the construction of a 2,000 km high-voltage transmission line.
The plants will have an average annual generation capacity of 18,430 GWh, which is equivalent to about 35% of Chile's consumption, and the total surface area of the reservoirs -taking into account all five plants- will be 5,910 hectares, equivalent to 0.05% of the Region of Aysén, that has a total surface area of 108,494 km.
The Baker and Pascua rivers have large flows which do not fluctuate a great deal, compared to the other rivers in central Chile. Both rivers are fed by the Bertrand and O'Higgins lakes, which in turn are filled by water thawing from the huge Campo de Hielo Norte and Campo de Hielo Sur glaciers. This special circumstance means that water levels in the Baker and Pascua rivers are at their highest when the rivers in central Chile are at their lowest, due to a lack of rain and snow. They thus provide a resource that complements those currently available in the central region.
The project will help make Chile energy independent , reduce consumption of imported fuel and help to address growing concerns about the environment and the development of efficient, clean renewable energy alternatives. When it is operating at full capacity, HidroAysén will be able to replace the energy generated by seven thermal power plants and prevent the emission of 16 tonnes a year of greenhouse gases, equivalent to 25% of all current emissions in Chile. The Environmental Impact Assessment study was approved in May 2011.
NELTUME HYDROELECTRIC PLANT. The Neltume Hydroelectric Plant will be situated in the Los Rios region, in the Province of Valdivia, in the Community of Panguipulli. It envisages the construction of a run-of-river hydroelectric power station with 490 MW of installed energy, that will generate an annual average output of 1,880 GWh, making use of the energy potential between Lakes Pirehueico and Neltume. The plant will connect to the SIC via a link between the Neltume plant and S/E Pullinque.
The project envisages the construction of a water inlet to collect water from the river Fui, approximately 980 metres below its source, which will then be channelled to the hydroelectric plant via a 10 kilometre underground adduction system. The turbine hall will be underground and sited approximately 850m from the eastern edge of lake Neltume, into which the turbined water will be discharged. The Neltume plant is envisaged as a run-of-river plant, so it will not lead to fluctuations in lake Pirehueico's natural water levels.
LOS CÓNDORES HYDROELECTRIC PLANT. The Los Cóndores project will be sited in the Maule Region, in the Province of Talca, in the Commune of San Clemente. It envisages the construction of a run-of-river hydroelectric plant with installed capacity of 150 MW, that will generate an annual average output of 560 GWh, making use of the Laguna del Maule reservoir water via a 12 km long conduit. The plant will connect to the SIC via a link between the Los Cóndores plant and S/E Ancoa.
Field studies are being carried out, involving drilling and tenders for prospection sites. Design optimisation will mean modifying the adduction system in the section between the Laguna del Maule reservoir and Lo Aguirre Chico ravine, and the fall zone installation, which will now be completely underground. Doing this will considerably reduce the area of the project that is taken up by permanent installations, which will consequently have a beneficial environmental impact on the countryside, the soil, the vegetation and fauna.
PIRUQUINA MINI HYDROELECTRIC PLANT. The Piruquina project will be sited in the Los Lagos Region, in the Province of Chiloé, in the Community of Dalcahue, 17 km North of the city of Castro. It envisages the construction of a mini run-of-river hydroelectric power station with installed capacity of 7.6 MW , that will generate an annual average ouput of 30.4 GWh.
The mini plant will make use of the waters from the Carihueico river, via an intake channel and a 350-metre pressure pipe, with a 32 m3/s flow and a net fall height of 27 m. The project includes the installation of a moveable barrier across the river, which will be 12.4 metres high and create a lagoon which will flood an area of 47.6 ha., 5.2 ha of which will correspond to slopes and 42.4 ha to the riverbed of the Caihueico, it will have a volume of approximately 1,750,000 m3 and regulate up to 343,000 m3.
PUNTA ALCALDE THERMOELECTRIC PLANT. The Punta Alcalde project will be sited in the Region of Atacama, in the Province and Community of Huasco, 15 km South of the locality. It will involve the construction and operation of a thermal plant with two 370 MW generating units; a mechanised pier to unload coal (which will be transported by sea); storage space for the coal and limestone, and a tank to dispose of ashes and slag residue from the process.
The plant will connect to the Maitencillo trunk substation via a 220kV transmission system. It will also include related installations: a desalination and demineralising plant and an intake and cooling water discharge system. The main source of fuel will be sub-bituminous coal. The generating units will consequently be fitted with sleeve filters and electrostatic precipitators to reduce particulate emissions, a wet gas desulphuriser, using limestone and derivatives as a reagent to control sulphur dioxide, low-NOx burners and a selective catalytic reduction system (SCR) to control the NOx.
This project is currently undergoing environmental assessment by the relevant authority.