Powel secures first contract in Chile

Tinguiririca Energy in the Chilean capital Santiago has become Powel’s first South American customer, following a realistic full-scale pilot project, which utilised the Powel Smart Generation (SmG) solutions to the full.

Situated between the Andes Mountains along the eastern border and the Pacific Ocean to the west, Chile gets a lot of precipitation. Rain comes in along the coast turning into snow in the Andes. With melting snow from the mountains and fairly high rainfall, the country is very well suited to hydropower.

“Hydropower is already the main source of electricity in Chile, but the potential for growth is still large,” says Powel’s consultant Sverre Barth, who has been involved in this project from day one.

The area of Tinguiririca River in the Andes was the location for Powel and Tinguiririca’s pilot project. It included implementing a simplified case of a total of five Inflow models and two Shop models under Nimbus, and draining the water into two power plants.

Based on quantitative forecasts for precipitation and temperature, Powel Inflow predicts inflow. This improves reservoir usage, allowing for a more efficient and profitable operation.

Supporting Inflow, Nimbus organises the daily hydropower planning and operation, whilst Shop offers decision support for decision bids at day-ahead spot markets.

Nature vs engineering – a challenge

Two main Inflow models containing the five more detailed Inflow models and two Shop models made the analytical background for the pilot period of six months, and the analysis of the results were the decision parameter.

The water reservoirs in this area are very small, and in the case of Tinguiririca Energy, they are artificial and constructed on flat stretches of the river.

“Nature is the largest challenge to engineering in the Andes,” says Barth. “There is rough terrain and lots of loose light material in the mountains.”

The Andes are younger than Scandinavian mountains and much less eroded. One result of this is that a lot of loose material is being transported downstream into the basins. The power plants are, to a large extent, just treated as in a runoff river, with only short periods of accumulating the inflow possible.

SmG success

Following a successful trial period, Tinguiririca decided to buy the SmG solutions late in December 2013. They are now running the systems on a daily basis.

Both Chile and South America as a whole has a large potential for hydropower development, and Powel is looking forward to securing the next contracts.