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Irish firm to invest $1 bn in Chilean wind farms

Mar 26, 2009 - EFE

Santiago - Ireland's Mainstream Renewable Power plans to invest more than $1 billion in Chile over the next five years to build wind farms, the company's co-founder and CEO, Eddie O'Connor, said.

The project, which will generate more than 400 MW of electricity and supply power to 300,000 homes, is part of the strategic alliance that the Irish company formed with Chile's Andes Energy.

Mainstream's general manager in Chile, Jose Ignacio Escobar, said the $1 billion in investment was just "the starting point."

"If we can install not 400, but instead 800, 1,500 or 2,000 megawatts, we're going to do it," Escobar said.

Mainstream officially launched its operations in Chile on Wednesday by announcing the construction of its first wind farm, which will be built in Laguna Verde, near Valparaiso, and could go online in 2010.

The project, which is in the last stage of the environmental impact study, calls for the installation of 16 wind turbines of 2.3 MW each, supplying power to 19,000 homes, Escobar said.

Company representatives did not provide details on the other planned wind farms, but Escobar said Mainstream had identified several areas with "very good wind conditions" across Chile.

O'Connor, for his part, said he gave Chilean Energy Minister Marcelo Tokman an extensive report Tuesday that outlines the strategies the South American country should implement to achieve energy independence.

"Our research shows that Chile has the natural resources to develop 44,000 megawatts of wind energy and another 37,000 of solar energy," O'Connor said, adding that "renewable energy resources alone can turn Chile into an exporter of clean energies."

Mainstream Renewable Power is developing wind-power projects in Canada, Chile, Scotland and South Africa. EFE