Colbún, the third largest power generation company in Chile, and a leading hydropower operator, has signed an agreement with RheEnergise, a UK clean-technology company, to explore the potential deployment of RheEnergise’s innovative form of long-duration hydro-energy storage, known as High-Density Hydro.

Colbún and RheEnergise will work together to evaluate the feasibility of building a 10MW, 10-hour HD Hydro system in Chile. Colbún sees the deployment as a way to complement its existing portfolio of hydro, wind and solar projects through a technology that could solve the problem of intermittency of renewable energy.  RheEnergise's HD Hydro technology is particularly attractive in Chile because it is not affected by water scarcity risks.

It is RheEnergise’s first commercial venture in South America. It will undertake investigations and technical studies of potential sites for its HD Hydro system, whilst Colbún will provide RheEnergise with local market knowledge, advice on planning and permitting and on utility connections.

Subject to the outcome of this work, to be carried out over the next 12 months, the two companies are aiming to have their first 10MW scheme in commercial operation by 2030.

RheEnergise’s HD Hydro storage system is said to be low-cost, energy efficient and fast to develop and construct. Rather than using water, it uses an environmentally benign fluid which is 2½ times denser than water, and which can provide 2½ times the power when compared to a conventional low-density hydro-power system. As a consequence HD Hydro can be deployed beneath the surface of hills rather than mountains, which could open up many opportunities in markets around the world.

Sophie Orme, commercial director at RheEnergise commented: “Chile is a very attractive market for RheEnergise’s HD Hydro. The Chilean government is leading the way in Latin America, having dedicated UUSS$2 billion for energy storage auctions from 2024, and having set a renewables target of 70% by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2050. We are delighted to partner with Colbún, … to help them achieve their plan to add 4GW of renewable assets by 2030.”

Image: RheEnergise Colbun HDHydro graphic