Major Chilean grid connection on schedule for completion by mid-2017

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
The SIC and SING grid connection has been the subject of great debate in the industry. Carlos Finat, ACERA, discusses. Flickr: ACERA

The major connection between Chile’s Northernmost and Central grids, which will provide a larger market for the high concentration of solar PV in Chile’s north, is expected to be complete by mid-2017, according to a leading industry figure.

Construction on the project to connect the Northern Interconnected System grid (SING) with the Central Interconnected System grid (SIC) in Chile started in July last year.

Chile has four main separate electricity networks, which means that the high penetration of utility-scale solar in the desert regions of the North cannot provide power to the most populated central regions around Santiago until the Northern and Central grids are interlinked.

Chile-based utility E-CL, a subsidiary of French energy company Engie, formerly GDF Suez, the largest independent power producer in the world, was awarded the connection project. The project will be developed by E-CL subsidiary Transmisora Eléctrica del Norte (TEN).

Many industry members have been expecting delays in the Mejillones–Cardones transmission line project completion until 2018/19 at the earliest, however, Carlos Finat, executive director of the Chilean Renewable Energy Association (ACERA), told PV Tech that he expects the connection to complete on time by mid-2017.

He added: “Any project of this size can be delayed [by] a few months. Instead of having it by mid-2017, it may be online by the end of 2017 or the first month of 2018, [however] it is a reasonable delay in a project such as this.”

Moreover, Finat said there is only a “low probability” of any delay. Despite facing some level of opposition, the project has a major advantage in that the developer already has most of the approvals for the land on which the connection line will be built. Most of it will also be built in the desert, away from villages, cities and other communities.

Finat added: “It is going to face opposition as any project of this kind [would], but the project is not in a critical zone.”

The outlook for solar in Chile and its surpassing of 1GW cumulative installed capacity is discussed by Finat and other industry members in a feature on PV Tech published today.

The SIC/SING grid connection strategy has been approved as part of a national transmission plan that is not specifically related to the development of solar energy, said Finat. However, it will benefit solar by bringing a larger market to PV projects located in the North. The Northernmost grid also happens to be the smallest network in Chile so the benefits of connecting to this larger market will be felt acutely.

Furthermore the connection will allow the interchange of energy between the grids depending on relative fuel prices, which means this is a “key project”, added Finat.

The concentration of renewables is particularly high in the north. Chile's society for industrial development Sofofa recently reported that of the US$58 billion invested in renewable energy projects in various stages of development as of December last year, nearly US$40 billion will be spent in the northern regions of Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo.

The Atacama desert has incredible solar resources but it is far away from demand centres. Flickr: Danielle Pereira

Read Next

June 18, 2021
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this week presented a draft order aimed at establishing a joint Federal-State task force on electric transmission
June 16, 2021
EQT infrastructure has announced a takeover bid for Solarpack, which owns approximately 450MW of operational solar PV projects.
PV Tech Premium
May 28, 2021
Grids continue to be a thorn in the side of European renewables as long connection queues and exorbitant fees risk stymying the clean energy transition. In this exclusive discussion from Large Scale Solar Europe 2021, we hear how grid operators are adapting to the demands of clean power generators.
May 11, 2021
Spain’s Solarpack was affected by pandemic-related project delays in Chile during a first quarter, in which it saw its net profit shrink 95% year-on-year to €300,000.
April 29, 2021
French utility Engie has doubled its renewables deployment targets in Chile as part of plans to end its coal-fired generation activities in the country by 2025.
April 16, 2021
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has announced a string of initiatives to help develop the country’s power grid, including tightening a transmission incentive policy for utilities and a workshop that will explore how companies can benefit from grid-enhancing technology.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
August 24, 2021
Solar Media Events, Upcoming Webinars
October 6, 2021