Chile inaugurates $300m windfarm to reduce dependence on fossil fuel

28 August 2014 (Last Updated August 28th, 2014 18:30)

Chile has inaugurated a $300m wind farm around 250 miles from the capital Santiago, as part of its strategy to cut down its dependence on fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy.

Atacama desert

Chile has inaugurated a $300m wind farm around 250 miles from the capital Santiago, as part of its strategy to cut down its dependence on fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy.

Located on a coastal hillside, the wind farm comprises 50 huge turbines that come with an installed capacity of 115MW.

Although the wind farm is the biggest in size in South America, it is still small compared to the wind farms in Europe or the US, reports BBC.

Further, the wind farm has less than 1% of the country's total electricity generating capacity.

Around 70% of the power produced by the farm will be supplied to Los Pelambres copper mine in the Chilean Andes, while the remaining will be sold on the open market, according to the publication.

The wind farm is jointly owned by US company Pattern Energy and Chilean mining giant Antofagasta Minerals.

El Arrayan will cater to 20% of the energy requirements of Los Pelambres copper mine.

Inaugurating the farm, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was quoted as saying: "This farm is a great example of collaboration between our mining industry and a clean-energy company.

"I hope this project acts as a powerful stimulus for other companies in the mining sector to start opting for this kind of energy."

Energy is a major problem in Chile as the nation does not produce its oil and gas, unlike other countries in the Latin America region.

Approximately a third of its energy comes from hydro-power plants but mostly it imports fossil fuels.

"Energy is a major problem in Chile as the nation does not produce its oil and gas, unlike other countries in the Latin America region."

While Chile has been dependent on Argentina for fossil fuel, the latter has reduced the supply to cater to its own domestic requirement.

As a result, Chile has turned to liquid natural gas (LNG) as an alternative option to coal.

It is currently building two terminals on its coast for the import of gas via sea from across the globe. However, there is a hiccup as LNG is expensive and therefore, Chile is shifting focus to renewable energy sector.

The Atacama Desert in the north region is dry and sunny, making it ideal to tap solar energy, while the country has numerous volcanoes to tap geo-thermal power.

In addition, it has a long coastline, which is suitable for tapping wave and tidal power.


Image: The Atacama Desert in Chile is ideal to tap solar power. Photo: courtesy of Jespinos / Flickr.com / Wikipedia.

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