Rurelec has started on the construction of a new power plant in Chile following the recent grant of full environmental approval.

The 40 MW Termonor power project will help to meet growing energy demand in the port of Arica and is eventually expected to be expanded to 136 MW, says Rurelec.

The project marks the entry of UK-based Rurelec into the northern Chilean power market, where demand is growing rapidly. The company has also been shortlisted in a tender to construct a 450 MW combined cycle power plant in the region.

“We are delighted to have been granted full environmental approval for our power plant in Arica and to have been shortlisted for a 450 MW power purchase agreement in the SING [Sistema interconectado del Norte Grande transmission system],” said Peter Earl, CEO of Rurelec. “Working with our partners in Chile, we are looking to meet Chile’s demand for electricity in the northern SING region which serves some of the largest global mining companies in the world.”

Rurelec, together with its Chilean partners Enerbosch and Invener, has selected a GE Frame 6B gas turbine for the Termonor plant, which will initially run on liquid fuel until trans-shipped supplies of LNG become available in the near future.

Expansion to 136 MW would be achieved through the addition of a second gas turbine and conversion to combined cycle operation, says Rurelec.

Arica is an important hub serving the mining industry of northern Chile. The current net capacity of the SING transmission systems is around 4000 MW, but a minimum of 3000 MW of new capacity will be required over the next seven years, says Rurelec.