Approval granted for 84 MW first phase of 265 MW in Atacama region

The 84 MW first phase of a planned three phase, 265 MW wind development in the Atacama region of Chile has won environmental approval. Dubbed Señora Rosario, the first phase is to be made up of nine wind turbine clusters on the arid plains 120 kilometres northeast of Chañaral city. Spanish wind project developer Acciona Energía plans to install 56, 1.5 MW machines made by its turbine manufacturing division. Total investment is estimated at nearly $118 million. Señora Rosario "is still at an early processing stage and there are no set dates to develop it," says Acciona. In local press reports, Acciona Energía Chile's Roberto Redondo says the company is holding out for the right conditions. "Projects are still not viable under current power prices," he says. Under Chilean law, renewables generation sells at the average selling price of all power on the wholesale electricity market. Even with high gas and oil prices, power purchase prices for renewables are around $75/MWh. Redondo estimates a minimum of $85/MWh is required. "We believe the conditions will eventually be right to develop the wind plants," says Acciona's head office in Spain. Meanwhile, the other two phases awaiting environmental approval are the 138 MW Señora Gabriela complex, located between the communities of Caldera and Bahía Inglesa, and the neighbouring 44 MW San Blas development. Acciona confirms it is developing other projects across Latin America but says they are still at too early a stage to discuss.