Global energy giant Enel will speed up its exit from coal generation in Chile as it piles on renewable capacity in the South American nation.

Enel will seek approval from local power authorities to close two units of its Bocamina coal plant totaling almost 500MW by May 2022, well before a previous 2040 deadline for the full shutdown.

The Italian-based group is simultaneously planning to complete 2GW of wind, solar and other renewables in 2022.

Enel’s head of global power generation Antonio Cammisecra said: “We will be the first power company in Chile to fully exit the coal sector, while continuing to safely build renewable capacity, with concrete benefits from an environmental, economic and social standpoint. This is fully in line with our group’s decarbonisation strategy.”

Chile is racing to reach a legally-binding target of 20% of renewable energy power supply by 2025, and hit a 2050 carbon-neutral goal.

Enel – among the world’s biggest developers of wind and solar – is itself pursuing a rapid and steep reduction in its coal capacity as part of a wider decarbonisation agenda.

Its total coal capacity was 11.7GW in 2019 and is expected to fall to 6.6GW in 2022.

Enel was recently put on a ‘watchlist’ by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund over the scale of its legacy coal operation, but defended its decarbonisation record by pointing to the major reductions already made and in the pipeline.