Tocopilla power station

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Tocopilla power station is an operating 398 MW gas-fired power station in Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chile. Its four coal-fired units were all retired between June 2019 and September 2022.


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).[1][2] 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.[2] Engie decommissioned Units 12 and 13 in 2019[3] and Units 14 and 15 in 2022.[4][5]

Retirement 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 June 2019 the Chilean government announced that all four of the Tocopilla plant's coal-fired units 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.[8]

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.[9] Engle's subsequent plans have called for Mejillones 4 to be converted from coal to natural gas by 2025.[10][11][12]

Units 12 & 13

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.[13]

Units 12 and 13 were retired in June 2019.[3]

Units 14 & 15

In June 2018 Engie added Tocopilla 14 to its scheduled closure list.[14] In December 2019 Engie announced that Units 14 and 15 would be retired in January 2022 instead of a previously planned date of May 2024.[15] As of December 2020, Units 14 and 15 remained on schedule for decommissioning in January 2022.[4]

However, in December 2021, Chile's National Energy Commission (CNE) requested that Engie postpone the closure of both units until at least June 2022 to ensure grid reliability.[5][16] Engie confirmed the delayed closure date in an April 2022 presentation to investors.[17] The company was obliged to rehire 13 workers at the Tocopilla plant to comply with CNE's request.[18]

In July 2022, Engie announced that it had disconnected Tocopilla's coal-fired unit 14 from the grid as of June 30, and confirmed plans to retire unit 15 on September 30, 2022.[19][20] Later the same month, Chile's National Energy Commission passed a resolution officially confirming the September 30 retirement date for Tocopilla 15.[21]

On September 30, 2022, Unit 15 was shut down as planned, putting an end to Engie's use of coal-fired power at Tocopilla.[22][23]

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.[24]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Engie Energía Chile S.A.[15] (formerly E-CL)[2]
  • Parent company: Engie[15]
  • Location: Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chile
  • Coordinates: -22.0971,-70.2121 (exact)
  • Gross generating capacity (operating): 398 MW[25]
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 16: Gas-fired, combined cycle[2], 398 MW[25][26] (start-up in 2001)[2]
  • Gross generating capacity (retired): 441 MW
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 12: Coal-fired subcritical, 87 MW[27] (1983-2019)[2][15][27]
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 13: Coal-fired subcritical, 86 MW[27] (1985-2019)[2][15][27]
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 14: Coal-fired subcritical, 136 MW[27] (1987-2022)[2][19][20]
    • Tocopilla power station Unit 15: Coal-fired subcritical, 132 MW[27] (1989-2022)[4][22][23]
  • Coal Type: Bituminous

Articles and resources


  1. "Reporte Integrado (p 28)" (PDF). ENGIE Energía Chile SA. 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "Anuario y Estadísticas de Operación (p 34)" (PDF). CDEC/SING. 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "ENGIE Energía Chile retira primeras dos centrales a carbón en Tocopilla". Engie. June 7, 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Retiro del carbón se reactivará en enero de 2022 con salida de dos unidades de Central Tocopilla". Electricidad. December 31, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Plantean retrasar retiro de Bocamina II y Ventanas II para reducir suministro con diésel". Induambiente. December 3, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  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. Chile to close eight coal-fired stations by 2024, IEEFA, Jun., 2019
  9. 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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Gobierno anuncia el retiro del 50% de las centrales a carbón al 2025". Ministerio del Medio Ambiente. April 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "Chile speeds up plans to close coal plants, to retire half its fleet by 2025 | S&P Global Platts". April 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. "Tras anuncio de Engie de salida total del carbón para 2025, ambientalistas apuntan a Aes Gener y Colbún". El Mostrador. April 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. Engie prepara el cierre de dos nuevas unidades a carbón y proyecta invertir US$ 1.000 millones en renovables, Fundación Terram, Apr. 14, 2018
  14. Announce the closure of two coal-fired thermoelectric plants in Tocopilla, Electricidad, Jun. 8, 2018
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Engie, AES to retire 674 MW of coal capacity in Chile earlier than agreed, Renewables Now, Dec. 10, 2019
  16. A. Pozo, K. Peña & (November 25, 2021). "Plan de salida de carboneras sufre otro revés: CNE pide posponer el retiro de dos unidades". Diario Financiero.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. "Investor Presentation 1Q22" (PDF). Engie. April 27, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "Engie sincera que postergación del retiro de dos de sus unidades "no estuvo exenta de desafíos"". Diario Financiero. April 12, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Engie Energía Chile desconecta unidad 14 a carbón de Tocopilla". Engie. July 1, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Engie fija fechas para el cierre de sus dos últimas unidades a carbón de la central Tocopilla". Fundación Terram. June 30, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. "CNE fue informada sobre el retiro de tres unidades generadoras a carbón". Comisión Nacional de Energía. August 1, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. 22.0 22.1 "ENGIE Chile cierra su última unidad a carbón en Tocopilla - Engie". Engie. September 28, 2022.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Bocamina II de Enel en Coronel y la Unidad 15 de Tocopilla de Engie se desconectan hoy del Sistema Eléctrico Nacional". Generadoras de Chile. September 30, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. González, Karen (August 25, 2019). "Estudio UC: habitantes de zonas con termoeléctricas se enferman 4 veces más". La Tercera. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Memoria Integrada 2021 (p 14)". ENGIE Energía Chile. January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. "Engie". Generadoras de Chile. Retrieved 2022-04-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 "PLAN DE DESCARBONIZACION Y RETIRO DE CENTRALES TERMOELÉCTRICAS A CARBÓN EN CHILE" (PDF). Chile Sustentable. June 4, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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