Chile’s proposed 300-MW Espejo de Tarapaca pumped-storage plant gets environmental go-ahead

Chilean environmental regulator Servicio de Evaluacion Ambiental has given its approval for environmental studies associated with the construction of a 300 MW pumped-storage hydropower project in the northern Tarapaca region.

The US$400 million plant, to be called Espejo de Tarapaca, will be used primarily to power commercial and industrial clients in what is one of the world’s more significant copper mining hotbeds.

Water used to fuel the project would be pumped from the Pacific Ocean to a natural reservoir in the Atacama Desert some 600 meters above sea level.

The Espejo de Tarapaca pumped-storage component would work in tandem with the proposed 600-MW, $500 million Cieolos de Tarapaca solar energy plant, whose environmental approval is still pending.

Developer Valhalla Energia said it must still secure financing for both of the projects, but that construction of Espejo de Tarapaca could begin by the end of next year with commercial operation set to begin by 2020.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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