From Chile to Larderello with the Earth’s Energy

Published on Friday, 16 October 2015

Four young aspiring engineers from the University of Antofagasta, Chile (three of whom Chilean and one Peruvian student), flew across the ocean for an extraordinary professional experience: to study the most advanced geothermal techniques in the town of Larderello, Italy, where the earth’s energy was used for industrial purposes for the first time over a hundred years ago.

The training course is part of the Italian Year in Latin America initiative, promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sponsored by Enel in order to valorise the different ways in which Italy is present in Latin America, encourage meetings between institutions and companies, and establish business and cultural partnerships. Students will attend a three-month programme in Enel Green Power’s power plants in Tuscany, where they will have the opportunity to witness first-hand the process by which one of the world's leading companies generates energy from the earth’s heat. ‘Cultural exchanges such as this one help a young company like EGP to strengthen and build its global identity. While it is important for South American students to be exposed to new experiences, it is equally important for geothermal colleagues in Larderello,’ declared Francesco Cantuti of Human Resource Management Operation & Maintenance Italy at Enel Green Power.

Geothermal energy has a high potential for growth in Chile, although it is still not widespread. In the region of Antofagasta, Enel Green Power is building Cerro Pabellón, the first geothermal power plant in South America. The Cerro Pabellón facility (which will also be the first geothermal power plant in the world built at 4,500 metres above sea level) will implement the innovative HH300 drilling system designed by EGP, which the students will have the chance to see in action in Larderello. ‘We are the first Chilean engineers to study geothermal energy. This opportunity in Italy is a great challenge for us from a professional point of view. It is a huge responsibility, because we must pass on what we have learned to our colleagues at our universities back home,’ stated Claudio Rivera Araya, one of the four students.

The course will feature both lectures and practical experience in the field. The programme will focus on four areas: an introduction to geothermal energy combined with an Italian language course; 20 classroom seminars on O & M and geothermal energy; hands-on training in the different O & M units; engineering and construction in the geothermal sector.

Enel Green Power also launched the exhibit Geothermal Power, Italian Energy from the Heart of the Planet within the Italian Year in Latin America framework, allowing visitors to learn about the sector’s development and future prospects in a playful and interactive way. The exhibit, which was inaugurated at the Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM) in Santiago (Chile), will also be presented in Mexico, Peru and Colombia, and will be enriched with seminars, workshops, twinning programs and internships in Italy for students from other countries.