Chile produces nearly a quarter of the world’s copper supply, with the majority of production coming from the northern provinces (Exhibit 1). That same region is one of the driest places on the planet.
BHP’s (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) Escondida and Spence copper mines in northern Chile are poised to pay a total of $840 million for an early end to a 2008 energy contract with a coal-fired thermoelectric plant.
Cochilco analyst Camila Montes said desalination use would grow most in the drier northern parts of the country, forecasting 65% usage in Antofagasta, 60% in Tarapaca, 42% in Atacama and 25% in Coquimbo.
The addition of seawater desalination to a large-scale project adds at least a billion dollars to project capex, up to over $3 billion for a massive plant such as the 2,500 litres per second (lps) plant BHP added at Escondida in 2018.
The publicly owned company ECONSSA Chile SA, responsible for ensuring access to potable water and wastewater collection and treatment services in nine regions of the country, has awarded ACCIONA the supply of 100% renewable electricity to the desalination plant it is now building in the municipality of Caldera in the region of Atacama.
According to the terms of the PPA (Power Purchase Agreement), the contract will come into effect in November 2019, with a long-term horizon to cover all the desalination plant’s electricity requirements.
It is the sixth PPA for the supply of energy singed by ACCIONA in Chile. All the electricity supplied by ACCIONA will come from the company’s renewables plants in the country, where it currently has 291 MW in service and facilities under construction –some of them in the final phase of assembly and start-up- totaling 393 MW.
Acciona has signed a supply deal with Chilean water utility Empresa Concesionaria de Servicios Sanitarios SA (ECONSSA Chile) that will fulfil the energy needs of a water desalination plant set to come online in the Atacama desert next year.
The Spanish firm said in a release on Wednesday that it will supply energy to the plant from a mix of its Chilean renewables operations. It claims to have 291MW of operational facilities and 393MW under construction.
“These new renewable energy contracts will increase flexibility for our power portfolio and will ensure security of supply for our operations, while also reducing costs and displacing CO2 emissions,” BHP Minerals Americas president Daniel Malchuk said.
Who could argue with anyone wanting to find environmentally sustainable solutions to treating and reusing the produced water associated with oil and gas development? It is a PR-must for the industry powerhouses who have trillion-dollar stakes in the Permian Basin and need to be seen as responsible corporate citizens.
Fortunately, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has embraced a more independent and transparent position, as reflected in her recent remarks at the Carlsbad Mayor’s Energy Summit. Among other things, she is supporting a new produced water energy consortium – and is committed to developing a scientifically grounded regulatory environment that reflects viable water reuse policies for industry.
NMSU, consortium partners awarded $100 million grant to tackle nation’s water challenges – New Mexico
New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering is part of a team that was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy five-year, $100 million grant to create the Energy-Water Desalination Hub to address water security issues.
As a member of the National Alliance for Water Innovation team, Pei Xu, the PESCO Endowed Professor and Ward Family Endowed Interdisciplinary Chair in Civil Engineering, is leading NMSU’s effort in the consortium that includes Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory along with 19 founding university partners and 10 founding industry partners.