Italy’s Enel is decommissioning one of its coal-fired power plants in Chile two years sooner than originally planned, with the unit’s closure coming two days after the Chile-based unit of a U.S. utility announced it would accelerate the closure of a pair of coal-fired power plants in the country.
Enel on Dec. 31 is closing its 128-MW Bocamina 1 coal-fired power station. The company also is awaiting authorization from Chile’s National Energy Commission (CNE) to close its 350-MW Bocamina 2 plant in May 2022.
AES Gener on Dec. 29 said it would close both the 120-MW Ventanas 1 and 220-MW Ventanas 2 coal-fired generating facilities ahead of schedule, with Ventanas 1 going offline immediately, and Ventanas shutting down in 2022, instead of 2024 as originally scheduled.
The Chilean government over the past year has been working with several generators in the country, including AES Gener, Enel, ENGIE, and Colbun, to gradually phase out coal-fired power generation in the South American nation. Coal today supplies about 40% of Chile’s electricity.
The most-recent coal plant closures stem from a 2019 voluntary decarbonization agreement between Chile’s largest generators and the [Chilean government]. “Since [the agreement] was announced in June 2019, we have accelerated the retirement of six coal-fired plants compared to their original date,” energy minister Juan Carlos Jobet said in a statement. Jobet earlier this month also assumed the role of Chile’s mining minister.
AES Gener CEO Ricardo Falú said both Unit 1 and Unit 2—after its closure in 2022—could come back online to generate electricity in the event of an emergency. The Chilean government now says it expects to take at least 11 coal-fired units offline by 2024, after earlier saying it expected to retire eight units over the next four years.