Talinay Oriente 90MW EPC Wind Farm

Although I don’t normally post stories about wind farms I’ve worked at I want to do an exception for Talinay, a project with whom I have a relationship almost emotional.

Located in Chile, in the Coquimbo province, near the Limarí river, it has been a project entirely developed by Vestas with internal founds and my first “hands on” EPC experience.

We’ve had the pleasure of optimizing the layout both in the preliminary phase, working together with the wind & site team, and in the constructive project. It was tough, because it is located in a mountainous area where impressive earthworks are needed.

It is a mix of V90 and V100 turbines of the 2MW platform, with an installed capacity of 90 MW.

Connected to the grid in March 2013, it has been constructed at an amazing, “china style” speed: with almost 400 peoples working together on site during the busiest period, it was a record for the foundation (5 per week, with two concrete plants on site working full time day and night) and the turbine installation (4 WTG per week).

The wind farm was completed in 6 months.

Almost all the big players of the sector have been involved: from the engineering side support was provided by IDOM, SISENER and ESTEYCO, while the main subcontractor was GES who worked with local and international subcontractors (among them, Hormigones Melón, Burger Gruas and CJR).

On the electrical side, it was one of the first (or maybe the first) PASS installed in Chile. The transformer was developed at lightning speed (155 days ex works), while the substation was made by ABB and Siemens.

Now is property of the Italian utility ENEL Green Power, who also signed a service agreement. Part of the money of the deal comes from a loan from Denmark’s Export Credit Agency (EKF). ENEL has an aggressive expansive approach in the Chilean market, where is developing several other wind farms (some of them with Vestas).

Below you will find several interesting pictures: two trucks pulling a tower section due to the high slope of the road, PASS switchgear and line trap, concrete plant and other interesting views of the wind farm.

Wind Energy in Chile

After my trip to Uruguay I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Chile, another promising destination in South America. The country enjoys a high GDP growth, with controlled inflation and a stable regulatory framework, and it’s a place where several big players are betting.

We are ending the construction of Talinay, a 90 MW EPC wind farm I’ve worked at together with my team. Initially developed with Vestas money it has recently been acquired by ENEL Green Power, a Utility that is active in the local market with several other projects such as Valle de Los Vientos. The money comes from the Denmark's Export Credit Agency and (at least as far as I know) no PPA has been signed.

This is a peculiarity of the Chilean energy market: several developers are working on projects without power purchase agreement, selling on a merchant basis at the spot price of energy (right now around 80 $/MWh).

Other financial solutions do exist: Irish developer Mainstream Renewable Power, with many active projects, is using Chinese financing and Chinese turbines (Goldwind, of course). Pattern Energy has signed a long-term power-purchase agreement (PPA) with Antofagasta Minerals (a mining company). They are not alone: copper, the commodity that is moving the whole economy, has energy intensive extraction, and this model will be probably replicated in the future.

The strong economic growth justify this approach, as the energy demand is increasing while several mega-project have been stopped due to environmental problem and lack of popular support, like the HidroAysén dam developed by ENEDSA/ENEL  in the Patagonia region.

From a construction point of view, local prices are sky high (concrete and steel sells at around 1.5 to 2 times the European price) and salaries of skilled laborers are growing unstoppably. The good news is that you don’t have to build hundreds of kilometers of high voltage lines, because due to the peculiar geography of the country the main electrical line is always nearby.

You can learn more on http://www.centralenergia.cl/proyectos/mapa-de-centrales-proyectadas/