Patache power station

From Global Energy Monitor


Patache power station, also known as Tarapacá power station, is a retired 158-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant located at Punta Patache in northern Chile's Tarapacá region. A second unit of 110 MW was proposed at the same location but never built.


The plant is located at Punta Patache, 66 km south of Iquique in the region of Tarapacá.

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The 158 MW Patache plant is owned by Enel Generación Chile (formerly Compañía Eléctrica Tarapacá), a subsidiary of the Italian multinational Enel S.p.A. It began operating in January 1999.[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] The plant was officially shut down at the end of December 2019[4][1], marking an important early step in Enel's company-wide decarbonization plan.[5]

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.[6] CEA's decision was upheld in October 2011 by the Chilean Supreme Court[7] and again in September 2012 by a committee of Chilean government ministers headed by Environment Minister María Ignacia Benítez.[8][9] As of 2015, industry source Equus Mining lists the expansion as approved but not yet under construction.[10]

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[11], 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." 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.[12]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Enel Generación Chile[3] (formerly Celta, Compañía Eléctrica de Tarapacá)
  • Parent company: Enel
  • Location: Punta Patache, Tarapacá, Chile
  • Coordinates: -20.8053203, -70.1931953 (exact)
  • Status:
    • Unit 1: Retired (1999-2019)[1]
    • Unit 2: Cancelled
  • Gross Capacity:
    • Unit 1: 158 MW[1][13]
    • Unit 2: 110 MW
  • Type: Subcritical
  • Coal Type: Bituminous
  • Coal Source:
  • Source of financing:

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Hoy se concreta cierre definitivo de la central termoeléctrica Tarapacá | Gobierno Regional de Tarapacá". Gobierno Regional de Tarapacá. 2019-12-31.
  2. Chile to close eight coal-fired stations by 2024, IEEFA, Jun., 2019
  3. 3.0 3.1 Enel Chile receives permit to shut down coal-fired plant early, Renewables Now, Jul. 29, 2019
  4. Enel Chile cierra Central de Tarapacá y es su primera planta de carbón en cesar operaciones, America Economia, Jan. 2, 2020
  5. "Enel to unveil coal closure plan on November 24". S&P Global Platts. 2020-11-06.
  6. "Termoeléctricas Patache y Pacífico son aprobadas en Iquique a pesar del repudio ciudadano,", Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales, May 8, 2011.
  7. "Corte Suprema da luz verde a construcción de termoeléctricas Pacífico y Patache,", Emol, Oct 19, 2011.
  8. Sebastian Boyd, "Chile Ministers Approve Coal-Fired Power Plants, Tercera Says," Bloomberg, Sep 8, 2012.
  9. "Aprueban construcción de termoeléctricas Patache y Pacífico: Organizaciones ambientalistas en alerta,", El Boyaldía, Sept 9, 2012.
  10. "Reducing Chile's Dependency on Energy Imports,", Equus Mining Ltd report, February 2015.
  11. "Enel Generación Chile," Enel website, accessed Jan 14, 2018
  12. "Presentan plan de cumplimiento ambiental para central Patache - Electricidad". La Tercera. November 5, 2013.

Related articles

External resources