Two consortiums battle over 3GW Chilean power line tender

The power line will better connect Chile’s sources of renewable energy supply with its areas of high electricity demand. Image: Iberdrola

Two consortiums have been selected to take part in the tender for the construction and operation of the first long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power line in Chile, with a capacity of 3GW.

Spanish utility Iberdrola has a 60% stake in its ‘Meval consortium’. Other members include Dutch pension fund APG and Celeo, which is owned by Spanish company Elecnor, and has over a decade of grid and transmission experience in the region.

Chile’s National Electric Coordinator (NEC) has also received a bid from a consortium named ‘Yallique’ that includes the Colombian conglomerate ISA, Chilean transmission firm Transelec and China’s Southern Power Grid International.

Iberdrola said, “if successful, the project will require over US$2.5 billion of investment”, while a NEC media release said “the reference investment amount is US$1.48 billion”.

The 1,500km 600kV power line will run between the Kimal substation, in the Antofagasta region, and Lo Aguirre, in the Metropolitan region of the country.

This will link power projects in Chile’s Atacama Desert with the capital of Santiago, home to roughly a third of the population. The project will involve the construction of two converter stations that will use Siemens technology, as well as the upgrading of existing substations.  

“No doubt this is a project of strategic importance to Chile which will allow us to better deploy the renewable energy produced in the north of the country and transport to the consumption hubs in the centre,” Juan Carlos Olmedo, the head of Chile’s national grid operator, is quoted as saying by Windpower Monthly.   

“This project will be able to transport renewable energy blocks for 1,500km of our national territory, enabling a sustainable development of the energy sector, by expeditiously connecting the north and centre-south of the country,” said Chilean undersecretary of energy Francisco López in a NEC media release.

Submission for the tender started last week and the winning consortium will be announced on 6 December 2022, with the commissioning of the line expected at the end of 2028.

Iberdrola has also been investing in green hydrogen projects, with agreements with Mitsubishiprojects with BP and Enagas and a solar-plus-hydrogen power plant with ceramic tile maker Porcelanosa.