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Project Update

Kimal–Lo Aguirre HVDC Transmission Line Project, Chile [free access]

March 11, 2021

Developer: Yet to be selected 

 

Project details and status: The project is proposed by the Chilean national energy commission, Comisión Nacional de Energía (CNE), under its Annual Transmission Expansion Plan for the Sistema Eléctrico Nacional (SEN) or national electric system and zonal transmission system, for 2018.

 

The USD1,480 million project entails the construction of a 1,500-km-long high voltage direct current (HVDC) line, of ±600 kV, between the Kimal and Lo Aguirre converter substations, with the transmission capacity of each end being at least 2,000 MW.

 

In September 2019, the route study for the ±600 kV line was initiated by the Chilean government. The project would be the first to be covered under the zone study system, devised by the government to reduce social conflicts linked to the construction of any infrastructure.

 

In September 2020, the Chilean Ministry of Energy revoked its decision of conducting a field study for determining the route of the project. The COVID-19 pandemic also played a role in revoking the decision, as conducting a study would require on-site visits, which is difficult to carry out under the current circumstances.

 

In October 2020, Chilean national electricity system, Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional (CEN) published the tendering schedule of the HVDC project. The tender will be launched on October 26, 2020, with interested entities registering until November 30, 2020.

 

In November 2020, CEN gave access to interested parties to the preliminary technical documents for the project. Around 60 parties have shown interest in the project. Access to the documents included the general technical specifications of the project, HDVC specifications, series of addendums, forms and other technical documents, was granted to registered participants.

 

In December 2020, CEN conducted a roadshow for the international bidding process for the project. The roadshow covered the general aspects of the initiative, and discussed the provisions of the Transmission Expansion Decree No. 231/2019 of new works, modified in September 2020.

 

In February 2021, CEN officially launched an international tender for awarding the rights of execution for the project. The bidding documents and instructions for acquisition and registration of participants have been available on CEN’s website from February 1, 2021. Interested parties can participate individually or as part of a consortium or association. CEN will receive final bids for the project during August 2-4, 2021 and then award it on October 29, 2021.

 

Chile has set a goal of total withdrawal of coal plants before 2040; and the HVDC project is necessary, as it will take advantage of the energy being produced from the upcoming renewable energy (RE) projects in northern Chile, which due to current congestion of transmission lines, are not being utilised at their full capacity.

 

The HVDC project will run parallel to the existing 500 kV alternating current (AC) corridor and facilitate the decarbonisation process that is currently underway.

 

The construction period of the project is 84 months and is expected to start from January 2022 and end by December 2028.