Michael Navarro's conversion story from Bocamina II to photovoltaic solar farms

Published on Thursday, 6 October 2022

“I believe that most will participate and fulfill their new functions in the best way because the thermoelectric power plant school allows us to work anywhere.”

– Michael Navarro Benavides, senior specialist in Solar Maintenance Engineering at Enel Green Power

The end of an era

At the age of 40, Michael recalls his time at the Coronel facility, since he arrived in 2009 to work as a thermal operator of Unit 1 and later when he took on the commissioning and operation of the second power plant of the complex. "My job was to control the operating parameters of the facilities and equipment in service. We also analyzed the operational and economic impact to keep it within technical limits. Bocamina was like a family to me. We all thought we were going to retire at the plant because they were new facilities," he says.

With less than ten years of operation, the plant underwent an early voluntary closure process that ended Enel's coal-fired thermal generation in the country. Despite the nostalgia, Michael believes that the decarbonization process is the best route from an environmental and social perspective. "Dedicating ourselves to renewable energies, coupled with the fact that storage batteries in solar and wind farms will come later, will allow us to stop sacrificing the planet's time for future generations," he says.

The benefits of a just energy transition

Before joining Enel Green Power, Michael already knew solar energy because he completed a diploma course when they were not yet such massive installations. Although he is currently working in this area of energy generation, defining the maintenance activities for the equipment of all the company's photovoltaic parks, he has also had to study other tasks in his new functions.

“It was 13 years ago that I went from a job I already had mechanized to studying something new. Here I have received all the support to adapt in the best way.”

– Michael Navarro Benavides, Senior Solar Maintenance Engineering Specialist, Enel Green Power

Michael is happy about a decision that changed his life. He went from having a 12-hour working day, with endless requirements for the operation of Bocamina II, to a hybrid system, unknown to him until a few months ago. Michael works eight days a month in the Enel Chile building in Santiago or at the different photovoltaic plants installed in Antofagasta and Atacama. The rest of the month, he does it remotely at his home in Concepción without having to be away from his family. "Those attributes convinced me to keep contributing and working. I feel more like part of the team. I am enjoying everything happening in my life, seeing the glass full of everything coming," he says. In addition, he avoids a daily commute of an hour and a half from his home to Bocamina. "Even that has benefited me," he adds.

A lifelong Concepción native and father of three, this Fernández Vial fan highlights the welcome he has received in Enel Green Power's solar team. He values the labor reconversion process designed by the company for the future of its collaborators as an example to be followed by other organizations in the country.

"Before Bocamina, I came from another company where workers left after projects ended. There was nothing else. Other businesses should have the same considerations that Enel Chile has with its staff because people have families and responsibilities", Michael closes.