Electrica Guacolda is a coal-fired power plant located in the Isla Guacolda city of Huasco, approximately 700km north of Santiago. Constructed in the mid-1990s, the plant consists of four units with the fourth unit being inaugurated in October 2010.
The plant provides electric energy to the northern sector of the Interconnected Central System.
Coal-fired power plant details
The plant is composed of four units powered with a total gross output capacity of 608MW. The first two units generate 152kW each, while the third and the fourth unit generate 152MW each. Each unit consists of a boiler, a steam turbine, a generator and a steam condenser.
The natural circulation Mitsubishi boilers are equipped with water tubes of induced shot. The maximum steam flow is 440t an hour and it operates at a maximum pressure of 165 bar. The entry and exit reheated pressures of the boiler are 36.7 bar and 34.2 bar, respectively.
The 152kW-powered turbines operate at a velocity of 3,000rpm. Vacuum discharge takes place at an absolute pressure of 3.7cm Hg. Steam enters at a pressure of 159 bar and at a temperature of 537°C. The temperature of the reheated steam is 537.8°C. The generator produces electrical energy at an exit tension of 13.8kW. The operating velocity of the generator is 3,000rpm and the output frequency is 50Hz.
The third unit of the Guacolda power plant is equipped with flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) equipment and bigger electrostatic precipitators. Guacolda is the first FGD-fitted power plant in Chile. The fourth unit has been built in accordance with the European Economic Community environmental regulations.
Technology and construction of the Huasco-based Electrica Guacolda facility
The Electrica Guacolda plant converts latent chemical energy into steam (thermal energy) in the boiler through a combustion process.
Part of the energy is returned to circulating water, which increases the temperature to boiling point, converting thermal energy into mechanical energy.
With the pressure of the hot steam the turbines begin to move along with the rotor of the generators. The mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy.
The Electrica Guacolda plant was constructed in phases between 1995 and 2010. The first unit was commissioned in July 1995. During this period a 1.500t an hour, multipurpose wharf and a 220kW substation were also constructed.
In August 1996 a second unit was added to support the growing electric consumption in the region. The third unit came on-stream in July 2009.
Chilean national power grid network
The Electrica Guacolda plant is connected via 135km, 220kW lines in a simple circuit. Located between substation Maitencillo and substation Cardones, the line carries all the production of the power station to the main network of SIC.
A 34km long transmission line provides connection to the SIC at the Maintencillo substation. Connection from Maintencillo to Cardones is provided by the line’s remaining 101km.
Historically, the major source of power in Chile has been hydropower. However, due to the seasonal nature of the hydroelectric power generation system, the Chilean Government has resorted to increasing thermal power generation through natural gas and coal.
Previously Chile secured energy resources primarily through imports. The natural gas crisis in 2004, however, forced the Chilean Government to turn to coal-fired power plants because Argentina made limited exports of natural gas to the nation.
Since then coal-fired power plants have received renewed importance.