Lights go out at another coal-fired power plant in Chile

Sept. 29 (Renewables Now) — Chilean utility Engie Energia Chile SA announced Wednesday that it will disconnect its last coal-fired unit from the Tocopilla thermal power plant complex on Friday.

At one minute before midnight on September 30, Tocopilla Unit 15 will cease operations after 32 years in line. The act will represent the end of the first phase of Engie’s decarbonization plan in Chile, the utility said.

Engie Chile’s exit from coal began in June 2019 with the shutdown of Tocopilla units 12 and 13, which have since been dismantled. In June 2022, unit 14 was disconnected. What remains of the power station complex is now gas-powered.

Tocopilla’s four coal-fired generators totaled approximately 440 MW.

In April 2021, French utility group Engie SA (EPA:ENGI) announced that its Chilean subsidiary would phase out coal-fired generation by 2025 and develop 2,000 MW of renewable energy. With some wind and solar farms already commissioned and new projects under construction, the Chilean utility will soon have 682 MW of installed renewable energy capacity, he said.

The last coal-fired power plants of Engie Chile are concentrated in the municipality of Mejillones, and their future is already decided. Two coal-fired units of the Mejillones thermal power plant are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2024. Two other power plants in the municipality, Andina and Hornitos, will be converted to biomass. Finally, the company’s last coal-fired unit, Infraestructura Energetica Mejillones (IEM), which was commissioned in 2019, will be converted to run on natural gas and use petroleum diesel as backup.

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