Tocopilla Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor


Tocopilla Power Station is an operating dual-fuel power station in Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chile. Its coal-fired units 14 and 15 have a combined generating capacity of 268 MW, while the gas-fired unit 16 has a capacity of 362 MW.[1]


The satellite photo below shows the plant in Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chile.

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The Tocopilla power station is owned by Engie and operated by Engie Energía Chile S.A. (formerly E-CL / Electroandina).[2][3] Four coal-fired units (Units 12-15) were brought online at Tocopilla during the 1980s, followed by a natural gas-fired unit (Unit 16) in 2001.[3] Engie decommissioned Units 12 and 13 in 2019[4] and plans to decommission Units 14 and 15 in early 2022.[5]

Planned phase-out of coal-fired units

In February 2018 Chilean president Michelle Bachelet announced that Chile would phase out coal-fired plants,[6] and Engie announced that it would close its coal-fired plants in Chile.[7] Engie had previously announced that it would try to sell the plants to new operators instead of closing them.[7] In April 2018 Engie announced that it was seeking permission to disconnect Tocopilla Units 12 & 13 from the grid and that shutting them down would take 12-36 months.[8] In June 2018 Engie added Tocopilla 14 to its scheduled closure list.[9]

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.[10]

Unit 12 and Unit 13 were retired in June 2019.[4] In December 2019 Engie announced that Unit 14 and Unit 15 would be retired in January 2022 instead of a previously planned date of May 2024.[11] As of December 2020, Units 14 and 15 remain on schedule for decommissioning in January 2022.[5]

Despite the closure of the Tocopilla units, Chilean environmental groups note that Engle has actually increased its carbon footprint in Chile’s Antofagasta region with the May 2019 commissioning of the company’s new 375MW Mejillones Unit 4 – the largest coal-fired power plant in Chile.[12]

Environmental concerns

A 2019 joint study by Chile’s Universidad Católica and Chile Sustentable found that coal-fired power plants pose significant health threats to residents of Chile's Norte Grande region, with people living near the Tocopilla power station suffering markedly higher rates of lung cancer, asthma, heart disease, and related illnesses.[13]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Engie Energía Chile S.A.[11] (formerly E-CL)[3]
  • Parent company: Engie[11]
  • Location: Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chile
  • Coordinates: -22.0971,-70.2121 (exact)
  • Gross generating capacity (operating): 630 MW
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 14: Coal-fired subcritical, 136 MW[14] (start-up in 1987[3])
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 15: Coal-fired subcritical, 132 MW[14] (start-up in 1989[5])
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 16: Gas-fired, combined cycle[3], 362 MW[1] (start-up in 2001[3])
  • Gross generating capacity (retired): 173 MW
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 12: Coal-fired subcritical, 87 MW[14] (1983-2019)[3][11][14]
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 13: Coal-fired subcritical, 86 MW[14] (1985-2019)[3][11][14]
  • Coal Type: Bituminous

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Memoria Integrada (p 44)" (PDF). ENGIE Energía Chile SA. 2019.
  2. "Reporte Integrado (p 28)" (PDF). ENGIE Energía Chile SA. 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Anuario y Estadísticas de Operación (p 34)" (PDF). CDEC/SING. 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "ENGIE Energía Chile retira primeras dos centrales a carbón en Tocopilla". Engie. June 7, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Retiro del carbón se reactivará en enero de 2022 con salida de dos unidades de Central Tocopilla". Electricidad. December 31, 2020.
  6. Chile declares start of coal power phase-out, Climate Change News, Feb. 1, 2018
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ahora sí: Trasnacional ENGIE cerraría termoeléctricas Tocopilla, Andina y Hornitos, El Ciudadano, Mar. 29, 2018
  8. Engie prepara el cierre de dos nuevas unidades a carbón y proyecta invertir US$ 1.000 millones en renovables, Fundación Terram, Apr. 14, 2018
  9. Announce the closure of two coal-fired thermoelectric plants in Tocopilla, Electricidad, Jun. 8, 2018
  10. Chile to close eight coal-fired stations by 2024, IEEFA, Jun., 2019
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Engie, AES to retire 674 MW of coal capacity in Chile earlier than agreed, Renewables Now, Dec. 10, 2019
  12. Fajardo, Marco (August 29, 2019). "La ironía de Mejillones y Tocopilla: zona alberga a nueva termoeléctrica en región con la mayor tasa de cáncer al pulmón del país". El Mostrador. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  13. González, Karen (August 25, 2019). "Estudio UC: habitantes de zonas con termoeléctricas se enferman 4 veces más". La Tercera. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 "PLAN DE DESCARBONIZACION Y RETIRO DE CENTRALES TERMOELÉCTRICAS A CARBÓN EN CHILE" (PDF). Chile Sustentable. June 4, 2019.

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