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Chile has to date MW of gross installed capacity, distributed along four independent electrical systems:
The SIC and SING are greater electrical systems and group about 99% of the installed capacity in Chile. The electrical systems of Aysén and Magallanes are much smaller and have several not interconnected subsystems, whose existence is due to geographical isolation, making them very expensive to interconnect with the SIC.
Nationally there is a predominance of natural gas as dominant technology in terms of installed capacity (although many of these plants are operating on alternative fuels), followed by hydroelectric dams and coal-fired power plants.
Chile’s leading generation companies are Endesa, followed by AES Gener and Colbún. In the SING, E-CL, a subsidiary of GDF Suez, dominates the market.
*Note: The graph consolidates the installed capacity at parent company level, including subsidiaries. Endesa includes Pehuenche, San Isidro, Celta, Endesa Eco and Central Eólica Canela. In addition, Endesa holds a 50% stake in Gas Atacama, but does not consolidate Gas Atacama in its income statement. The other 50% belongs to Southern Cross Group. Colbún includes E.E. Industrial, Hidroeléctrica Guardia Vieja, Hidroeléctrica Industrial, Antilhue, Obras y Desarrollo y Río Tranquilo. AES Gener includes Sociedad Eléctrica Santiago, E.E. Ventanas, Termoandes, Norgener and Energía Verde. In addition, AES Gener holds a 50% stake in Guacolda, but does not consolidate Guacolda in its income statement. Suez Energy Andino, subsidiary of GDF Suez, includes E-CL (formerly Edelnor), E.E. Cavancha and Enaex, besides Electroandina assets, which merged with E-CL.
The power plant technology responds to the resources available in each geographic area. In the north, there is a strong reliance on fossil fuels, mostly imported, while towards the south the availability of water allows for an increasing hydropower contribution.
The development of power plants in Chile has gone through several stages. Initially, hydroelectric development was favored, which is reflected in the 1990 matrix. The gas treaty with Argentina, allowing importing natural gas at very competitive prices, gave way to a new, combined cycle based development stage. With gas trade restrictions imposed by Argentina, diesel and fuel oil burning turbines provided an emergency solution, while the market shifted to a coal-fired power plant based expansion, requiring longer-term development.
*Note: The 1990 installed capacity corresponds to the accumulated capacity installed up to that year.