Wind energy picks up speed in Chile

The El Totoral Wind Farm (‘Parque Eólico El Totoral’ in Spanish) is located 300km north of Santiago, in the municipality of Canela, on a remote site 800m from the Pacific Ocean. The wind farm has an installed power of 46MW and is designed to annually generate 103GWh of energy, which is sufficient to meet the needs of 20,000 homes. The wind farm, financed as a carbon emission reduction project, became the country’s largest wind farm on completion with over twice the installed power of the second largest wind power plant in Chile at that time.

The El Totoral Wind Farm has helped to meet rising demand for energy in Chile and supports the government objective to source 5 per cent of its energy from non-conventional renewable sources by 2014. The project has breathed new life into the area of Canela by stimulating regional economic development and has strengthened the capacity of the Chilean wind energy industry to deliver similar projects in the future.

During construction, Skanska sought to promote good stakeholder relations by informing and involving local people and addressing public concerns. Local employment was prioritised as part of the project and in order to compensate for the lack of local relevant skills, Skanska gave specialist training to the workers to educate them about the operation, service and maintenance of the turbines. Through careful planning and initiatives to involve the work force, the project was successfully completed with a perfect safety record.

The El Totoral project has allowed Skanska Latin America to develop its capacity to construct large wind farms in Chile, which is a market with great potential. The project is also a showcase for other potential wind farm clients concerned with environmental and social project responsibility.