The first geothermal power plant in South America, and the world’s first large-scale facility of this type to be built 4,500 metres above sea level: Cerro Pabellón was inaugurated on Tuesday, 12th September, at a ceremony attended by the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet; Chile’s Ministers of Energy and the Environment, Andrés Rebolledo and Marcelo Mena; CEO of Enel, Francesco Starace; CEO of ENAP Marcelo Tokman; and Enel’s Head of Renewable Energies division, Antonio Cammisecra. Owned by Geotérmica del Norte (GDN), the joint venture undertaken by Enel Green Power Chile (83,65%) and Enap (16,35%), Cerro Pabellón is located in the desert of Atacama and consists of two units with a total installed capacity equivalent to 48 MW (24 per unit). Once the system is fully operational, the plant will be capable of producing 340 GWh per year, an amount corresponding to the annual energy consumption needs of more than 165,000 Chilean families. The plant will enable a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions amounting to over 166,000 tonnes.
Around 320 million dollars have been invested in the creation of this power plant. This represents a source of pride for CEO Francesco Starace, who underlined how the project is a huge achievement “not only for us but for all of South America.” Cerro Pabellón added that the project “will help Chile to diversify its energy mix” and represented a technical and human challenge that was successfully tackled thanks to the team’s ability to adapt to the difficulties involved in working in a context as fascinating yet problematic as the desert. Starace then underlined how this was simply “the first step in a new journey of energy development” aimed at boosting the growth of the geothermal sector and aided by the significant resources available.
the first step in a new journey of energy development
Francesco Starace, Enel CEO
The sentiments of Enel’s CEO were mirrored by Marcelo Tokman, CEO of ENAP, who spoke enthusiastically about the accomplishment, underlining how the conclusion of this phase represents the beginning of a new stage in geothermal energy for Chile. As a fitting climax, during the event, the base camp of Cerro Pabellón was awarded the Sello de Excelencia en la Gestión de Gases de Efecto Invernadero (Certificate of Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management) by the Chilean Minister of the Environment, Marcelo Mena, in recognition of the measures implemented throughout the development of the project to quantify, reduce, and neutralize greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first time a Chilean project has received such an award.
The Cerro Pabellón power plant is one of the most innovative projects mentioned by the magazine Fortune, which included Enel (the only Italian company and utility provider) in its top 20 “Change the World” ranking, a list of the top 50 companies worldwide which have made a positive social contribution with their chosen business strategies.
Enel editorial staff