From Tuscany to the Andean plateau in the north of Chile. The innovations developed by Enel Green Power to convert the Earth's heat into electricity are ready to be exported to Cerro Pabellón, in the Chilean region of Antofagasta.
The plant at Cerro Pabellón, in the municipality of Ollagüe, will set a double record for Enel Group's green company: not only will it be the first geothermal plant in South America, but also the first one to be built at 4,500 metres above sea level.
The construction of this facility started on 14 July 2015, after EGP signed a contract with Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP), the Chilean state company that operates in the hydrocarbon sector. Works will be completed in early 2017 with a total investment of around 320 million US dollars, financed through resources provided by the Enel Green Power.
The technologies that will be transferred to Chile include the cutting-edge drilling system called HH300 that was recently installed in Italy, at Larderello in the province of Pisa, in one of the geothermal districts of Tuscany, a region in which EGP manages 32 generation plants that use underground steam, with a total capacity exceeding 760 MW.
HH300 is a highly automated hydraulic machine that has an installed capacity of 4MW and 272 tonnes of hook load capacity and can drill up to 5,000 metres deep into the ground. The drilling structure has a new loading system and uses longer drilling pipes, thus reducing maneuver time and supply costs, achieving an innovative pipe racking management and adding new service platforms. This machine produces evident benefits in terms of safety for operating personnel, efficiency and environmental improvements, since with the same impact and a careful and focused environmental integration, better performances are achieved, while maintaining the balance of the renewable geothermal cycle.
"We are very pleased to announce the start of work on the first geothermal plant in South America", stated Enel Green Power CEO Francesco Venturini. "Cerro Pabellón also sets another record by being built at the highest altitude for a binary geothermal plant. Thanks to its more than a century of experience in the sector, Enel Green Power has been able to leverage its knowhow to develop part of Chile's enormous geothermal potential, estimated to total about 3,600 MW, and to thereby contribute to diversifying the country's energy mix."
The plant, owned by Geotérmica del Norte SA, company controlled by Enel Green Power Chile with a 51% stake the other 49% belonging to ENAP, comprises two 24 MW units for a total gross installed capacity of 48 MW. Once fully operational, Cerro Pabellón will be able to generate nearly 340 GWh per year, equivalent to the annual energy consumption needs of almost 165 thousand Chilean households, while avoiding the emission of more than 166 thousand tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.