Chile’s Hydrogen Project Pipeline
In 2020, Chile released its green hydrogen strategy which set out to make the country the top destination for hydrogen investment in Latin America by 2025 with at least 5 GW of electrolysis capacity operating and producing 200k/tons of hydrogen per year.
With such a lofty goal, the country needs a healthy project pipeline. Moraga Paredes, Executive Director H2 Chile and Managing Director Continua Soluciones SpA recently commented in an interview with Energía Estratégica that as of August 2021, the portfolio of green hydrogen projects in Chile has tripled compared to November 2020, going from 20 to 60 projects.
As of today, there are two small plants producing green hydrogen in Chile. These are not large-scale projects, but they are important in terms of first steps for the country.
The first since 2017, from Enel Green Power and Enap, located in the Antofagasta region, is a Hybrid Energy Storage System (HyESS) which comprises a 125 kWp solar PV installation backed by a 450kWh hydrogen storage system and a 132kWh lithium storage system. The system is meeting part of the energy needs of the camp which hosts over 600 technicians working at the geothermal plant, Cerro Pabellón.
The second project was inaugurated this year at Anglo American Las Tórtolas floatation plant, which consists of a Power-to-Mobility system to feed H2V forklifts at a mining site. It is a small demonstration plant which has generated the first green hydrogen in Chile for electromobility. Through a hydrogen generator module with a production capacity of 2kg of H2 per day, a fuel cell is fed that provides clean energy to a forklift, in addition to a stationary fuel cell, which reinjects energy to the local electricity grid.
Haru Oni Project – In September of this year, the construction of the Haru Oni project (of HIF) began, which is the first green hydrogen-based e-fuel project in Chile, and is located in the Magallanes region.
The plant is owned by Chile’s HIF, and it has the backing of Enap, Germany’s Siemens and Porsche, Enel Green Power, and Gasco, among other companies. This plant is expected to start operations in 2022.
The project entails building a hydrogen-based fuel production plant, a 3.4MW wind turbine and 13kV back-up transmission line. It will have a 1.25 MW electrolyzer.
The plant will be built on a 3.7-hectare site within the Tehuel Aike estate in Punta Arenas. The project will take up a total of 5.7 hectares. The construction work is expected to take around eleven months to complete.
The US$ 51 million Haru Oni project will use renewable energy and CO2 extracted from the atmosphere to produce 350 tonnes/year of methanol and 130,000 litres/year of eFuel by the end of 2022. The production capacity will increase to around 55 million litres/year of eFuel by 2024, and around 550 million litres/year by 2026.
H2GN Project – Another project that was launched in September of this year is the H2GN project, promoted by Gasvalpo and technological partner, Grupo Busso.
This initiative seeks to inject green hydrogen into the natural gas distribution networks that the company has in the Coquimbo Region, replacing the use of natural gas by up to 20%, reaching more than 1,800 homes in the cities of Coquimbo and La Serena. It is expected to enter into operation in the first half of 2022.
The project will start with a pilot plant for the production of green hydrogen that will be installed by the company in the industrial district of Coquimbo. The plant will have an electrolyzer which will be fed with renewable energy from a local supplier. The green hydrogen obtained will be stored on site, to later be injected into the natural gas networks of the cities of Coquimbo and La Serena.
Upcoming Notable Projects
HyEx Project – led by the companies Engie and Enaex, in the Antofagasta region, seeks to generate green ammonia for explosives locally and for export, has already entered the environmental impact assessment system this last September.
It is essentially two separate projects – the first is a USD$47m pilot project that would use 36MW of PV solar energy for a 26MW electrolyzer. Engie runs a thermoelectric power plant near by that will supply the demineralised water.
The second is USD$49m pilot project that will use hydrogen produced in Engies plant to make ammonia for Enaex’s production of ammonium nitrate at its Mejillones industrial site on the northern coast. The 18,000 t/yr pilot project represents just 5% of Enaex’s 350,000 t/yr of ammonia consumption, which is currently being imported.
Both Enaex and Engie expect to commission their plants in June 2025. If Engie’s pilot plant results in a success, the utility would consider setting up a larger green hydrogen project in Antofagasta, with up to 2,000 MW of electrolysis capacity and with Enaex as the hydrogen off-taker.
H2 Magallanes – Total Eren unveiled plans just last week for a 10GW wind project to power green hydrogen and ammonia production in Chile. The H2 Magallanes facility would be located on land secured by the company on the island of Tierra del Fuego in Chile’s southernmost Magallanes region.
H2 Magallanes will consist of a giant wind farm, hydrogen production plant with up to 8GW of electrolysis capacity, a desalination plant, an ammonia plant, and port facilities to transport green hydrogen to markets around the world.
It expects to produce 800,000 tonnes of green hydrogen and export 4.4 million tonnes of ammonia a year.
Currently studies are underway to launch the project in 2025, aiming to produce hydrogen by 2027.
- AES Andes which is working on a project for the generation of ammonia, that project is expected to require 850 MW of renewable capacity.
- Airliquide, a pilot project that seeks to incorporate H2V buses to transport workers to mining sites.
- Copec, H2V supply station for buses from workers to mining sites.
- TCI GCOMP and its HOASIS project, which seeks to install a 3 GW electrolysis capacity plant for the generation of H2V for different applications, incorporating the concept of circular economy.
- Enagas, Acciona and GNL Quinteros have partnered to develop the “Green Hydrogen Bahía Quintero” project, which seeks to offer a sustainable energy alternative, contributing to the decarbonization process of the country’s energy matrix and the environmental recovery of the Puchuncaví communes and Quintero. Through an electrolysis plant with a nominal power of 10 MW.
- Engie and Walmart, a project that will generate H2V for forklifts that work with fuel cells. It is in the detailed engineering stage and expects to start its operation in mid-2022.
- TCI Gecomp, with the HValle Sur project, seeks to install electric generators to incorporate H2V in trucks from the forestry sector.
- CAP and Paul Wurth, project to incorporate Hidrogeno Verde into CAP’s steelmaking operations with a view to low-carbon steel in Chile throughout the entire value chain.
- AustriaEnergy and Ökowind, with the HNH Energy project, which will produce 150,000 tons / year of H2V or 850,000 tons / year of green ammonia for export.
It is still early stages in terms of Chile strategy to become a hydrogen leader. Without a doubt, there are still many hurdles to overcome such as regulatory issues, related infrastructure, lowering the cost of electrolyzers, and access to water that can be used in the process. At this early stage. the approach is to start with smaller demonstration plants that can be built out into more significant projects in the future.
Chile cannot compete with other countries in terms of the investment it can make at a local level to build the industry. Instead, it is betting that technology will be developed on a global scale that will lower the cost of hydrogen, in particular the electrolyzers, which can then be utilized in Chile. Companies and therefore investment will then be drawn to Chile looking to capitalize on the lower cost of renewable energies and open market policies, making it one of the worlds lowest cost producers of hydrogen.
The key to making this all happen is to keep its project pipeline advancing so that the country can benefit from the experience and skills it is learning at these early stages to build larger and more significant projects in the future.
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