The story of a new perspective, a concrete commitment to environmental and social sustainability in Coronel. The unprecedented steps we have taken together with institutions, organizations and communities in the area.
Decarbonizing the grid
December 31, 2020 marked a major milestone in Chile's transition towards a cleaner and more renewable energy grid. On that day, Enel Generación disconnected its Bocamina I coal plant, thus sticking to its national decarbonization plan and confirming its intentions to lead in decarbonization and promote sustainable energy development in Chile and across the globe. With this decision, which was announced on May 27 by Enel Generación's board of directors and ratified on July 6, 2020 by the National Energy Commission (CNE), Enel Generación is voluntarily bringing forward by three years the plant closure deadline programmed for 2023.
In a second step, the power company will also close its Bocamina II unit on September 30, 2022, almost two decades ahead of schedule. This will make Enel Chile the first company to close all of its coal-fired plants in the country.
Half a century of energy
The Bocamina power station was inaugurated in 1970 and, during the first two decades of operation, it was fundamental for Chile's economic development, providing stability to the electricity system and the coal industries of Coronel and Lota. Coal saw a resurgence in importance in the late 1990s due to the water crisis and again in 2007 due to the natural gas shortages from Argentina. In those instances, coal helped reduced Chile's exposure to climatic and international energy price fluctuations.
Past, present and future
Much can be learned about the past, present and future of power generation in Chile by studying the history of the Bocamina Thermoelectric Power Plant. For half a century, Bocamina has been a keystone of Chile's energy development. With an investment of 200 million dollars, Bocamina became a state-of-the-art power station and a benchmark in environmental management for coal-fired plants in Latin America. Abatement systems implemented in the plant's two units, made it possible to broadly comply with emission standards required by regulations and environmental permits. This was helped by an emissions monitoring system that continuously fed data online to environmental authorities. In addition, state-of-the-art filters were incorporated in the water adduction system and two geodesic domes were installed covering the two coal storage fields. As of December 31, 2020, with the definitive closure of Bocamina I, unit II will continue to operate under these standards until its final closure on September 30, 2022.
Mural Artwork at Bocamina
Coronel is the first place in Chile to be part of the “Open Power to Art” project, a global initiative that transforms Enel's plants into outdoor art galleries. The murals are the result of a participatory process along with residents who select the most representative stories. In Coronel, 14 focus groups were held with the active participation of 37 volunteers, resulting in the representation of the culture and history of Coronel over 3,200 square meters of street art alongside 7,800 square meters of green areas.
Innovative and circular environmental management
The Largest Dome in the World
In 2017 and 2018, the coal storage facilities (north and south) were covered with geodesic domes to avoid the free release of emissions into the atmosphere as a result of movement and the wind. Their enormous insulating domes make Bocamina the power plant with the highest carbon management standard in Chile and South America.
In 2018, in a voluntary and transparent measure that went far beyond the requirements of the law, Bocamina connected their ongoing emissions monitoring system to the Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) to transmit their raw data in real time. Emissions information is available to the general public through the following platform:
Enel has taken on the challenge of incorporating circular economy within its processes, for the purpose of mitigating the impact of climate change. A good example of this is the “Bocamina Thermal Power Station Waste Valuation Project.”
The electricity generation by Bocamina Unit 2 produces gypsum and ash as its byproducts, which were formerly considered “waste” that ended up in the landfill. However, under the concept of circular economy, this and gypsum are now valuable materials that can be given a second use or extension to their life cycles through their incorporation in other production processes.
Currently, 80% of the ash and gypsum resulting from the operations of Bocamina 2 are used as input for the production of cement and concrete, through supply agreements with local cement companies that reuse these materials.
This project is a win-win for everyone: Enel reduces its waste, the cement industry can improve its competitiveness by avoiding the purchase of natural gypsum and reducing CO2 and MP10 emissions for its transport, along with all other positive effects brought about for the environment and people.
A New Perspective in Coronel
Our purpose is “to empower sustainable progress”. This guides us in the socio-economic development of the communities where we operate. In Coronel, we have implemented a new community relation model, by reviewing all of the previous processes used in the relocation of 1,370 families. In figures, this decision led to an investment of US$120 million exclusively dedicated to the social plan to recover the social, physical, and financial capital of the families involved in the relocation. Alongside the fishing community, we have worked to construct a long-term vision for the local fishing industry, improving the infrastructure of 21 union associations we have been working with and reconstructing 6 community centers and 8 churches. Bocamina's social and environmental plan complies with guidelines on human rights.
Establishing new neighborhoods for resettled families involves rebuilding their livelihoods. In other words, creating the human, social and environmental conditions necessary to live in a community. The program aims to build social spaces and infrastructure, as well as sports facilities and places of worship that were not contemplated in the previous stage of the resettlement program. In addition, the plan is to repair more than 200 homes in two resettled communities in Coronel.
Collaborating with the Economic Development of the City
Since 2017, we have worked with the NGO Sembra to develop a yearly program on “Innovation and Energy for your Business,” which has strengthened around 100 projects, including 20 local SMEs and 137 startup businesses, of which 72 are led by women. This has driven the recovery of the area’s heritage and identity, including its traditional “miner bread” and local fishing industry. The program's greatest contribution has been the formalization of several SMEs, giving them access to the opportunities offered by public policy to promote small businesses.
We are committed to guide the communities we work with on a path of circular economy and sustainability and install a culture of sustainability in the country. To that end, we held a training course in eco-construction and building of eco-furniture with a group of women from the Cerro Obligado neighborhood. Thanks to this project, the “Entre Pallets” eco-furniture store is up and running in Coronel, managed by women from Coronel, who transform pallets into furniture. The project has created such a virtuous circuit that “Entre Pallets” now receives raw material donations from industries all over Colonel and has its own sales circuit.