Chile president opens El Arrayán

Chile's largest wind farm, El Arrayán

Chile's largest wind farm, El Arrayán

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has official opened Pattern Energy’s 115MW El Arrayán project, the country’s largest wind farm, as she highlighted Chile’s aggressive embrace of renewables.

“This project is important for our present and future energy needs,” said Bachelet, speaking on site at El Arrayán, located along Chile’s coastline some 400km north of the capital Santiago.

El Arrayán, which has been fully operational for several months, is 70% owned by Pattern Energy, the New York-listed wind yieldco, with the remainder held by mining company Antofagasta Minerals.

70% of the output is sold to a mining subsidiary of Antofagasta through a long-term fixed-for-floating hedge, with the remainder sold onto the Chilean spot electricity market.

Built by Skanska Chile using 50 Siemens 2.3MW turbines, El Arrayán is expected to produce power equivalent to the annual consumption of 200,000 Chilean homes.

Chile has emerged as one of the hottest utility-scale renewables markets over the past year or two, with US companies like Pattern, SunEdison and First Solar at the vanguard of development, and global wind and PV suppliers like JinkoSolar and Gamesa winning significant orders in the country.

China’s Hareon recently announced plans to build PV projects in Chile, and UK-based Rame Energy today announced it had raised money through a new share issuance to speed development of a wind farm in the country.

Chile has mandated that its utilities source 20% of their power from renewables by 2025, equivalent to about 6.5GW of capacity – compared to the roughly 1GW in place at present.

Additionally, renewable energy is providing a cost-competitive option for many remote mining operations in Chile that lack regular grid access.

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