Patache power station

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{{#badges:CoalSwarm|Navbar-Chilecoal}} Patache power station is a 154-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant located at Punto Patache Iquique in northern Chile's region I. A second unit of 110 MW has been proposed at the same location.


The plant is located at Punta Patache, 66 km south of Iquique.

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Background on existing plant

The existing 154 MW plant is owned by Enel Generación Chile (formerly Compañía Eléctrica Tarapacá), a subsidiary of Spain-based Endesa. It began operating in 1998. In October 2013, the government agency SMA cited the Patache plant for several environmental violations, including disregard for capacity and maintenance regulations in the plant's coal yard, ash decanter pools and ash dump; improper and unauthorized storage of fuel and other dangerous substances; and dead animals in the plant's seawater intake system. These violations made the plant liable for fines and other penalties, including possible license revocation or shutdown.[1]

Planned retirement

In June 2019 the Chilean government announced that the plant would be retired by 2024 as part of a plan to reduce the country's annual CO2 emissions from the current 30 million tonnes (tons) to four million by 2024.[2] In July 2019 ENEL received permission from the Chilean government to close the plant as of Dec. 31, 2019.[3]

Proposed expansion

A 110 MW expansion unit was planned at the Punto Patache location. In May 2011 Compañía Eléctrica Tarapacá won approval for the project from the regional environmental commission CEA (Comisión de Evaluación Ambiental) to build a second unit at the same location, despite strong community opposition and sustained protests by local fishermen, environmentalists and others concerned about health and environmental dangers posed by the plant.[4] CEA's decision was upheld in October 2011 by the Chilean Supreme Court[5] and again in September 2012 by a committee of Chilean government ministers headed by Environment Minister María Ignacia Benítez.[6][7] As of 2015, industry source Equus Mining lists the expansion as approved but not yet under construction.[8]

However, given Chile's ongoing move towards renewable energy sources, the lack of subsequent coverage of the expansion in the Chilean press, and the fact that the project is no longer mentioned on Enel’s website as of January 2018[9], the Patache expansion appears to have been abandoned.

Violations of environmental code

In September 2013, Chile's environmental regulator SMA charged the Patache plant with several violations of environmental code. As reported by BNAmericas, "SMA inspections discovered that at 100,000t the coal yard was over its maximum permitted capacity of 70,000t and lacked barriers to retain particulates, the ash decanter pools exceeded more than three times their 400m3 capacity and the ash dump was not properly compacted. Inspectors also discovered an unauthorized fuel storage system, minor fuel spills and improper storage of dangerous substances, as well as dead birds and marine life in the plant's seawater intake system. Due to the severity of the charges, the firm faces fines of up to 5,000 annual tax units (UTA) (US$4.76mn), revocation of the coal-fired plant's RCA permit or even shutdown of the facility."[10] In late October 2013, Endesa presented an environmental compliance plan addressing the problems detected during SMA's inspection. SMA sources said that the agency was studying the plan and expected to decide within a few weeks whether to impose sanctions.[11]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Enel Generación Chile (formerly Celta, Compañía Eléctrica de Tarapacá)
  • Parent company: Endesa
  • Location: Punta Patache, 66 km south of Iquique, I Region, Chile
  • Coordinates: -20.8053203, -70.1931953 (exact)
  • Status: Unit 1: Operating; Unit 2: Cancelled
  • Gross Capacity: Unit 1: 154 MW; Unit 2: 110 MW
  • Type: Subcritical
  • Projected in service:
  • Coal Type: Bituminous
  • Coal Source:
  • Source of financing:

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