Enercon to enter Chile with 'earthquake-proof towers'

Enercon is adapting its turbine towers to resist earthquakes in the Chilean desert as it prepares to make its market entry in the South American country by supplying a 607MW wind farm.

Horizonte will be built in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile (pic credit: Pixabay)
Horizonte will be built in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile (pic credit: Pixabay)

The manufacturer signed an exclusivity agreement with Chilean utility Colbun, to potentially supply 132 EP5 turbines for the 607MW Horizonte wind farm in the Atacama Desert.

Due to the site’s position across two tectonic plates, Enercon is modifying the modular steel tower to meet the seismic code — a Chilean building regulation designed to protect property and life in case of earthquakes — in the area, the manufacturer stated in its internal company magazine Windblatt.

It is due to begin installation of the turbines in 2022, ahead of project completion in 2024.

Energy produced at the Horizonte project will primarily be used by local industries, such as nearby mining companies, Enercon added.

The preliminary agreement of 132 turbines indicates an average power rating of just below 4.6MW per unit.

Horizonte is in line to be Chile’s largest wind farm.

It is planned for a 80km2 site in the Antofagasta region in northern Chile owned by the government, but transferred to Colbun for 30 years from July 2024.

Wind speeds remain unchanged or even decrease with increasing hub height at the site, Carla Tapia, Enercon sales manager in Chile and project coordinator explained in Windblatt.

She said the low wind shear at the site means the optimum hub height is between 90 and 110 metres.

Tapia added that there was only little ambient turbulence at the site, making it the "ideal" location for turbines with large rotor diameters, which can achieve high output in low-wind areas.

812MW Horizonte Horizonte (812MW) OnshoreTaltal, Antofagasta, Chile, Central & South America Click to see full details

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