Energy projects worth $34 bn planned in Chile

Santiago, Nov 19 (EFE) Some $34 billion is to be invested in a series of energy projects in Chile through 2015, roughly 35 percent of the total for initiatives across the full range of industrial sectors.

That figure was contained in a report released by the private research outfit Intelligence Unit on Projects and Businesses.

The northern mining regions of Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo will account for $14.5 billion, or roughly 43 percent, of the total investment in the energy sector over the next six years.

One of the biggest initiatives is the 2,100 MW Castilla thermoelectric plant in Atacama, which the Chilean unit of Brazilian power company MPX Energia is building at a cost of $4.4 billion.

Regulators are currently evaluating the environmental impact of the initiative, which is the country’s largest electricity project in terms of investment costs.

The second costliest initiative is the HidroAysen megaproject, which is being carried out by Spain’s Endesa and Chile’s Colbun at a cost of $3.2 billion in the southern region of Aysen.

That hydroelectric power complex, designed to have an installed capacity of 2,750 MW, has drawn fire from environmental groups because the project involves building five dams and flooding thousands of hectares of Chile’s pristine Patagonia region.

Meanwhile, planned investment in renewable energy tops $2.5 billion, with special priority to be given to wind parks such as French firm GDF Suez’s recently inaugurated Monte Redondo project in the northern city of Ovalle.

One of the most important renewable energy initiatives is the Talinay Wind Park, to be built in the Coquimbo region at a cost of $1 billion.

The study also noted that the Energy Ministry’s 2010 budget will be 56 percent higher than the previous year and that 71 percent of the total will be earmarked for the Programa Pais initiative, which seeks to promote energy efficiency and the development of non-conventional renewable energy.

The company planning the biggest investment outlays is Endesa, which is building seven hydroelectric projects at a cost of $3.85 billion and is spending $276 million on renewables.