British engineering company Seawind expects to receive construction approvals this month for three wind projects in Chile with a combined capacity of 149 MW. Chile's environmental regulator, Conama, is conducting environmental impact assessments (EIS) and is expected to rule favourably on the projects. Seawind's director for Latin America, Marcelo Banto, says the 100 MW Quilagua park in Tocopilla province in northern Chile should be the first to start construction in 2009. The company is still talking to likely investors and this will determine whether Seawind buys turbines from Germany's DeWind, India's Suzlon or Denmark's Vestas, says Banto. If all goes to plan, the company expects to receive turbines by October this year and to start operations in 2010. Seawind is also waiting for another EIS for its 40 MW wind project to supply energy at the Gaby copper mine in Calama, owned by Chile's national copper company Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco). Possible equipment suppliers are still be considered, but DeWind and Enercon are said to supply the most suitable turbines for the high altitude project, which is destined for a site 3400 metres above sea level, says Banto. Seawind also submitted a third EIS request for its 9 MW Chome wind farm on the peninsula de Hualpen. The company, which already operates the world's highest wind power project -- for mining company Barrick Gold at around 4000 metres in Argentina's Andes mountains (Windpower Monthly, December 2007) -- does not foresee any barriers to securing construction licences in Chile. It has erected 44 wind measuring masts across the country to identify suitable sites for wind power exploitation and hopes to woo new investors to support project development. The main issue is to attract private sector money. "Whether we go ahead or not is all about getting the investment," Banto says.
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