Colbún submits 800 MW Paposo Pumping Central project in Chile for environmental assessment – Hydro Review®️

Colbún announced it has entered the 800 MW Central de Bombeo Paposo energy storage project for assessment with the environmental impact assessment service (SEIA) in Chile.
This is the first electricity generation initiative in Chile and Latin America that is based on a closed circuit of desalinated water recirculation, which will allow almost half a million households access clean and sustainable energy.
Once the authority verifies that the environmental impact study complies with all the regulatory requirements, Colbún can move forward with development.
With a projected investment of close to US$1.4 billion, the main objective of developing this project is to contribute to the energy transition through a zero-emission renewable energy storage and generation system, complementary to solar and wind sources, favoring decarbonization of the energy matrix at night and early morning, at the time of greatest demand and when there is no solar generation.
The new plant will generate about 1,800 GWh per year, which will contribute to reducing 435,600 tons of CO2 per year.
“This is a relevant project not only for Colbún, but for the country’s energy transition, because it represents an innovative and pioneering storage solution, which is key to continue increasing the penetration of variable energy sources, such as solar and wind. There is no project like this in Latin America that is so sustainable and efficient, using few cubic meters of desalinated water, allowing energy to be stored and used when it is most needed,” said José Ignacio Escobar, chief executive officer of Colbún.
The upper reservoir will be located 1,500 meters above sea level on the coastal cliff, with the lower reservoir at the foot of the cliff. A machine house will contain the generating units.
The Paposo Pumping Central project also has a desalination plant with a maximum production capacity of 90 liters per second during construction (for filling the reservoir), and then 30 liters per second during operation to compensate for water losses due to evaporation and internal consumption. A 71-km-long transmission line and a 23-kV power line of almost 4 km will be used for construction and then as power for auxiliary services.
Construction is projected to begin in mid-2026, with the facility put into service in the second half of 2029.
Presentation of the EIA was preceded by a relationship process with the communities of Paposo and Taltal that began in July 2022. As a result of early citizen participation, community approaches were incorporated that modified the original project, minimizing its environmental impacts.
This project will promote the generation of renewable energy in Chile and seek to be good news for the economic and social development of the area. Measures were identified to support a better quality of life at the local level, including the construction of a water delivery system from the project’s desalination plant, in case of emergency or supply outage, to the Paposo Rural Health Service; a labor linkage program that allows for the hiring of local labor; participatory environmental monitoring; a program to support the development of artisanal fishermen and collectors; and support for community initiatives that promote local health and education.
Colbún owns 27 power plants in Chile and Peru with an installed capacity of around 4,000 MW. The company has a roadmap to double its size by 2030, based on renewable energy and energy solutions that support its customers’ sustainability goals.
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