The climate crisis has drastically affected Chile’s central area during the last decade, the rainfall levels have decreased notoriously and during some months evidencing the absence of rainfall, causing a decrease in the flows and water levels of the groundwater supply. This, in addition to a scenario with a constant increase in demand for water resources, creates a problem regarding the availability of water for various uses.
The San Isidro combined cycle power plant, same as other power plants of this type, requires water for its cooling process, which takes place by means of the use of cooling towers. A large part of the water resource used is returned to the atmosphere in the form of steam, while another part is converted into liquid industrial waste. Given the troublesome water condition in the region where this plant is located, the water available in the wells has not been sufficient enough in order to provide the water resource to the corresponding cooling cycle, which has implied purchasing water for this purpose.
Given this situation, the Innovation area of Global Power Generation is carrying out research and the execution of pilot programs for the incorporation of new technologies in order to reduce the purchase of water necessary for the plant's processes. Among which the following stand out:
- The capture of water steam from the cooling towers in order to reincorporate it to the cycle.
- Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) non-thermal reverse osmosis systems for the removal of sulfates from the used cooling waters and to reincorporate them as well to the corresponding cycle.
- The capture of CO2 from the combustion gases for its reuse in the plant processes, as well as for possible other uses with the agricultural community in the area (increased productivity and a lower water use in the greenhouses).
- In addition to industrial symbiosis processes with local companies contributing to the water circularity.
In its different stages San Isidro will adopt new technologies towards a sustainable use of water, mainly recirculating water, which means that the water used in the combined cycle processes of the plant will find its origins in recycling and at the same time preventing the generation of waste from the process. This is why this project responds to sustainable Inputs and, in turn, contributes to Sustainable Development Objectives number 6, 7, 9 and 12.