Guacolda power station

From Global Energy Monitor


Guacolda power station, also known as Huasco power station or Termoeléctrico Guacolda, consists of five 152-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plants in Huasco, Atacama, Chile.


The photo shows the plant's location in Huasco, in the Atacama region of Chile.

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Launched in 1992, the Guacolda subcritical coal project supplies power to the northern sector of Chile's SIC (Sistema Interconectado Central) electrical grid. The first unit at Guacolda began producing power in July 1995. Additional units came online in August 1996, July 2009 and March 2010.[1]

The fifth 152 MW unit received its environmental permit in August 2010[2] and was constructed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, with operations scheduled to begin in the second half of 2015.[3] In September 2013, responding to tougher new government pollution restrictions, the plant announced a deal with the Austrian company Andritz to acquire a selective catalytic reduction plant, four desalinization plants and technology for cleaning exhaust fumes, all expected to be in place by early 2016.[4]

The new unit began operating in the fourth quarter of 2015.[5]

Financing for Unit 5

In April 2013, a financing agreement for unit 5 was closed. US$318 million in loans was provided by Itau-Unibanco and BancoEstado.[6]

Environmental Impact

In September 2017, César Araya, a government official for the Atacama region, announced the implementation of a new environmental management plan for the Guacolda plant, designed to improve air quality by imposing a 22% reduction in particulate emissions over a five- to 10-year period. Chilean environmental groups including S.O.S Huasco, Chile Sustentable and the Asamblea Freirina criticized the plan, asserting that it provided insufficient public health protections and gave local industry excessive leeway to regulate itself and delay meaningful emissions reductions.[7]

In November 2020, the Guacolda plant transferred control of its network of 11 air quality monitoring stations to Chile's Ministry of the Environment. The move was intended to increase public confidence in data reported from these stations.[8]


Since March 2014 the plant has been jointly owned by Chilean generator AES Gener (part of US-based AES Corp.) and the international investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).[9][10]

Planned Phase-out

According to the Chilean Ministry of Energy's national decarbonization plan announced by President Sebastián Piñera in June 2019, all five units of the Guacolda (Huasco) power station will cease operations no later than 2040. Plant owner AES Gener agrees to consult with the government every five years to update details of the plan, taking into account system stability requirements, energy costs, and environmental goals.[11]

Specific decommissioning dates are yet to be determined, but AES Gener's 2019 annual report lists expiration dates of 2020 to 2032 for current contracts at its Guacolda units.[12] Chile's Ministry of Energy did not include the Guacolda power station in its list of plants to be disconnected in 2019-2024.[13]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: AES Gener (Guacolda Energía SA)[12][13], El Aguila Energy SpA[5]
  • Parent company: AES (50%), GIP (50%)[5]
  • Location: Huasco, Atacama, Chile
  • Coordinates: -28.465013, -71.256541 (exact)
  • Status: Operating
  • Capacity: 760 MW[5]
  • Type: Subcritical
  • In service:
    • Unit 1: 1995[5]
    • Unit 2: 1996[5]
    • Unit 3: 2009[5]
    • Unit 4: 2010[5]
    • Unit 5: 2015[5]
  • Coal Type: Subbituminous, Bituminous
  • Coal Source:
  • Source of financing: Unit 5: US$318 million in debt from Itau-Unibanco and BancoEstado[6]

Articles and resources


  1. "Central termoeléctrica Guacolda,", Wikipedia, accessed March 26, 2014.
  2. "Resolución de Calificación Ambiental: Unidad 5 Central Térmica Guacolda S.A." (PDF). República de Chile: Comisión Regional del Medio Ambiente. August 18, 2010.
  3. "MHI Receives Full-turnkey Order to Build Coal-fired Power Plant in Chile - Fifth Plant Ordered by Empresa Eléctrica Guacolda," Mitsubishi Heavy Industries press release, Nov. 27, 2012.
  4. "Empresa austriaca moderniza planta energética Guacolda de Huasco". La Nación. September 5, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 "GUACOLDA 2015 RESULTS (p 15)" (PDF). AES Gener. December 31, 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Preview of Coal Fired Guacolda Unit 5 Financing (158MW) | Transaction | IJGlobal". Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  7. "Comunidades rechazan nuevo plan ambiental para Huasco," UChile, September 19, 2017
  8. "Termoeléctrica Guacolda traspasa al Estado red de monitoreo de calidad del aire". Induambiente. November 27, 2020.
  9. "Chile AES Gener brings in fund as partner on Guacolda power plant". Reuters. March 28, 2014.
  10. "Fitch: AES Gener Gains Control of Guacolda; Neutral to Ratings," Business Wire, March 31, 2014.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 "Plan de Descarbonización y Retiro de Centrales Termoeléctricas a Carbón en Chile, Anuncio del gobierno de Sebastián Piñera" (PDF). Chile Sustentable. June 4, 2019.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "2019 Annual Report (page 23)" (PDF). AES Gener. March 1, 2019.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "3Q-2020 Earnings Report" (PDF). Guacolda Energía SA. December 2020.

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