US wind developer Seawest will complete its feasibility study of a 37.5 MW project for Chile's state copper company, Codelco, in May, according to Codelco environment executive Maria Soledad Robres. The study is being undertaken at a site 20 kilometres from Calama in northern Chile's Region II, where estimated average wind speeds are a high 8 m/s, giving a projected annual generation of around 111.5 GWh, Robres says. The estimated costs of the wind project is $37.5 million, with operating costs of $0.008/kWh. Power from the project would be sold for $0.045/kWh. Codelco's interest in the project stems from the possibility of supplying its nearby Chuquicamata and Radomiro Tomic divisions, and the possibility of qualifying for Kyoto credits from CO2 reductions. Even if Codelco were unable to market its credits, it has taken a corporate decision to cut emissions throughout the company. Power generation in Chile's northern grid (the SING), which serves Regions I and II in one of the driest areas in the world, is almost 100% thermoelectric and based on coal and natural gas piped from Argentina. Power generation in the SING is responsible for almost 3 billion tonnes of CO2 a year, and the proposed project would save 145,000 tonnes a year. Although there is no formal market for pricing a tonne of saved CO2 emissions, Codelco considers that $10-30 from such savings in developing countries is realistic, giving it the potential to earn between $1.45 million and $4.35 million from carbon trading.
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