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Engie to build first standalone BESS in Chile at decommissioned coal plant

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Global utility and IPP Engie will build a 116MW/660MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) at the former site of a coal plant it operated in Chile.

The Tocopilla BESS, which has a discharge duration of 5.7 hours, is at the engineering stage and the France-headquartered company will begin construction on it in June 2024. It is located at the former site of Engie’s Tocopilla coal plant in the Antofagasta region which it decommissioned in 2022.

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It is the company’s fifth BESS project in Chile, its largest, and also its first standalone project, Engie said.

Its previous four – Coya, Arica, Tamaya and Capricornio – are co-located with solar PV and are designed to charge from the PV and discharge to the grid, while Tocopilla will operate independently with its own grid connection to the National Electric System (NES).

The 139MW/638MWh Coya project came online last month while Tamaya (68MW/418MWh) and Capricornio 48MW/264MWh are also under construction, with Arica is a 2MW/2MWh pilot project operational since 2019.

Standalone projects operating in the electricity market are possible in Chile after a law was passed in late 2022. There are big opportunities in wholesale energy trading, with Chile having the biggest intra-day price spreads in the world along with Texas (according to a developer we interviewed last year for a Premium article).

BESS are being added to solar PV projects in order to reduce huge curtailment because of over-production, with most large-scale projects in the country being built in this way.

The government is also set to run a tender for opex and capex support for energy storage projects for delivery in 2026-2028, although further details still need to be released.

Although Tocopilla is a standalone BESS unit, there is a substantial solar PV array located at the same site, as shown in the satellite image below, which is next to an ammonia plant.

Energy-Storage.news’ publisher Solar Media will host the 3rd annual Energy Storage Summit Latin America in Santiago, Chile, 15-16 October 2023. This year’s events bring together Latin America’s leading investors, policymakers, developers, utilities, network operators, EPCs and more all in one place to discuss the landscape of energy storage in the region. Visit the official site for more info.

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