Frequently Asked Questions

Kimal - Lo Aguirre Project general aspect

What are the benefits of HVDC technology?

This HVDC technology is new in Chile, but it’s well known and mature in countries that require long transmission lines, such as Brazil, the United States, Canada, Norway, and Sweden, where there has been this kind of lines for many years. There are concrete benefits from using this technology, such as the use of space in the territory, which is of direct benefit to the local communities.

For example, direct current lines use less security strip space. To transmit the same amount of power, alternating technology (3000MW in 600kV) uses 50% more territory.

In terms of efficiency, it has lower energy losses. In general, alternating current transmission lines (all those present in Chile at this time) lose 250 MW. In contrast, direct current lines only lose 150 MW. The 100 MW of loss savings, when translated into energy, would correspond to the equivalent annual consumption of about 33,000 homes.

On the other hand, this is one of the most innovative projects in the transmission field, as it’s directly related to taking advantage of the benefits of solar and wind energy and contributing to decarbonizing the energy matrix.

What does this project consist of?

Developing, building, and operating the first direct current line between the María Elena commune (Kimal substation) in the Antofagasta Region, and the Pudahuel commune (Lo Aguirre substation) in the Metropolitan Region, which will have a capacity of up to 3,000 MW of clean energy, with a length of 1,340 km (approx.) of key infrastructure for Chile’s decarbonization. It will have two converter substations. The substations’ function is to convert direct current into alternating current and thus facilitate that electricity can be used in our homes and the National Electric System (SEN). There are around 2,700 towers and it does not include intermediate substations.

Why is it relevant?

Kimal – Lo Aguirre was defined as a key part of the Ministry of Energy’s public works plan since it is an enabler of other transmission projects and an essential part of the Chilean energy system. In addition, its implementation increases the national transmission system security level, allowing large energy transfers between the North-Central-South of the country and reducing congestion in the national transmission system. We will also contribute to technology and innovation as it’s the first direct current project to be developed in Chile, becoming a more economical and efficient transmission alternative with less impact on the territory.

In the case of Kimal, where will the substation be located?

It is located near the existing Kimal substation, in the María Elena commune, Antofagasta region. In addition, considering its linking to the SEN, it will be connected with the following lines in the existing Kimal substation:

  • 220 kV connection line in 2 double-circuit AC lines.
  • 66 kV AC connection line for SSAA.
In the case of Lo Aguirre, where will the substation be located?

In the case of Lo Aguirre, there are two alternatives, however, the most feasible is the one located near the existing Lo Aguirre S/E, in the Pudahuel commune, Metropolitan Region. In addition, considering its linking to the SEN, it will be connected with the following lines to the existing Lo Aguirre substation:

  • 500 kV AC double circuit connection line.
  • 66 kV AC subway connection line for SSAA.
At what stage is the project currently?

This project, considered a “national project”, is in the development phase, initiating the engineering and environmental studies, as well as an Advanced Community Relationship during 2022, to submit the Environmental Impact Study. As part of the feasibility study, engineering studies are being carried out to define the layout and design the main project components.

Would the study be accepted, the Environmental Qualification Resolution is expected to be obtained in 2025 to start the construction process, which would then take three years to start operations in 2029. This process would take about seven years (84 months) of development and construction.

Technical Aspects of the Project

Where will this transmission line pass through?

We are basing our work on the Ministry of Energy’s Electricity Transmission Strips Studies, Orientation Guideline which allows us to have greater certainty regarding the route of transmission projects. This is because it identifies relevant aspects in the territories [Valuation Objects], provides a look at environmental sustainability and a more strategic intervention in the territory, as well as an early dialogue with the authorities and local communities, reducing risks and impacts in its execution.

Why northern Chile?

Based on studies carried out by the National Electric Coordinator (public agency), it was concluded that there is a need to transmit the renewable energy that is being generated in the north of the country, mainly from photovoltaic and wind projects to energy consumption centers located in other regions and municipalities. It allows transmitting clean energy to other territories and communities to ensure its efficient supply, replacing the energy produced by fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), contributing to our matrix decarbonization by injecting clean and constant energy to improve the quality of service.

How can you ensure that the layout is right for the different communities?

The advanced community participation will allow us to gather all the information and local observations from the communities and territories to have the most optimal layout, in addition to the sustainability standards compliance required for this type of project, such as the Ministry of Energy’s Electricity Transmission Strips Studies, Escazú Agreement, ILO’s Convention 169, Framework Law on Climate Change, Equator Principles, among others.

Community Relations

Have you already started a relationship with the communities?

The project has committed to submitting the Environmental Impact Study to the Environmental Impact Assessment System in the first quarter of 2023. During 2022 we will be formulating this study, so we will be carrying out numerous studies with different specialties in the territory through which the line will pass. For this reason, we have decided to initiate an advanced relationship process with communities and agents of the territory, allowing us to develop top management for our social and environmental performance, building relationships of trust and collaboration with communities to inform them about our project and the company. This collaborative and transparent dialogue will gather observations, concerns, and recommendations from the communities to better enhance the positive effects of the Kimal – Lo Aguirre project.

This early dialogue with local authorities and communities seeks to reduce social and environmental risks and impacts.

Will there be a social investment?

Trust-building activities seek to share a value proposal in dialogue with the community. Our commitment is to stimulate participation and dialogue to generate social value in communities near our project. We seek to carry out a permanent dialogue process, encouraging communities’ participation so we can present a joint undertaking for social issues. This model considers a co-design that goes beyond the present Chilean regulations, because we believe innovation has to be technological but also managerial, amidst the intense agenda of changes currently facing humanity which also includes our society. We adhere to global treaties and agreements because of this will, for which today the entire Conexión Energía team is very proud.

Will the baseline assessment results be presented to property owners, neighbors, and the community?

Beyond the fact that it is a public initiative project with defined milestones, we’re inviting communities and neighbors to work together in the process of defining the area of influence and setting a schedule that adjusts to the times defined by the State.

Is there going to be any alternative benefit for the communities where the "power plants" are installed or where the line passes?

The project is a transmission project. It does not have power plants. This project contemplates only two substations, one at the beginning and the other one at the end. This is one of the benefits offered by the direct current line compared to the alternating current line (it uses fewer easements, less infrastructure, fewer circuits, and fewer cables).

During the day, from the Kimal Substation to the Central-South zone of the SEN, it will be possible to transmit an additional 3000MW of power (mainly from solar and wind generation), which today cannot be injected into the National Electric System (SEN) due to the transmission system congestion. Then, at night, the Lo Aguirre substation will take the cheapest energy, available in the Central-South zone of the SEN, to supply it to the north of the country.

To date, an energy curtailment of 3581 GWh has been recorded in the North zone of the SEN, a value that has doubled the curtailment record for the entire 2021 (1647 GWh). By 2029, with the HVDC link availability, together with the rest of the works proposed in the expansion plan, it’s expected a 70% reduction in energy curtailment.

Environmental Impacts

What are the main general findings regarding fauna, flora, and sea life?

Findings to date concerning flora mainly involve the identification of preservation native forests (Guayacán, Espino) in 10 areas (polygons) of the current layout. The environmental and engineering teams are studying these areas in detail to evaluate if there is indeed intervention in the habitat or vegetation units. We intend to avoid cutting vegetation units (trees).

Regarding fauna, in the first stage, we found nesting areas of protected species: grey gull and tern. Based on this finding, we changed the layout to avoid these nesting areas and have no impact on them.

As the project does not consider passing through coastal areas, we have not carried out a sea life baseline assessment

What measures have you considered to ameliorate significant impact on terrestrial flora and fauna?

For now, we are making every effort to avoid a significant impact on terrestrial flora and fauna. In this context, a Variants Committee was created where multidisciplinary teams have been working for months throughout the territory and together with the communities, to observe every detail that could influence the effects of the layout. The field studies have allowed us to generate relevant findings decisive in the development of this first direct current line in Chile. This Committee is made up of a multidisciplinary Conexión team and external professionals, who meet every time fieldwork reports a finding that must be analyzed to assess its impact on the layout. Their decisions directly benefit the community and the environment.

How do the transmission line and layout affect birds' flight?

In all cases, we always evaluate whether birds pass through the layout and then study the migratory flight path, depending on the bird species. If there is interaction with bird flight paths, measures are taken such as covering the lines (flight deterrents so they do not collide) and if the migratory route is affected, alternatives to the layout are considered.

Will sacrifice zones be generated where the line passes?

No. The transmission infrastructure is present in cities and towns all over the country and the world. Transmission lines do not generate harmful effects on the environment and people’s health.

Regarding the project’s landscape impact: How will it be mitigated?

The Environmental Impact Assessment System requires a Landscape Impact Study. And for this purpose, it has published a Methodological Guide, to bring something so apparently subjective down to objective elements. Meaning, our landscape impact assessment is carried out by landscape experts according to guidelines established by the environmental authority. In this regard, it could be that something for a person or community may be considered of landscape value while it’s not, or something that for a company may not have value, but it does have it. In the case landscape value is assessed, impact mitigation measures must be designed, with options ranging from creating vegetation curtains (view obstructing trees) to layout changes.

Kimal - Lo Aguirre Project general aspect

What are the forms of energy storage?

On a large scale using the following common ways:

– Lithium-ion batteries: Lithium-ion batteries are widely used for large-scale energy storage due to their high energy density and fast response capacity. They are used in storage systems at the power station or plant level to stabilize the electrical grid, store renewable energy and provide backup power.

– Pumped hydroelectric storage: This is one of the oldest and most efficient methods of large-scale energy storage. It involves pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir when power is available, and then releasing the water downward through a turbine to generate electricity when needed. – Thermal storage: In thermal storage systems, energy is used to heat a thermal fluid (such as molten salts or thermal oil) which is then stored in insulated tanks. When energy is needed, this stored heat is used to generate electricity through a turbine.

– Compressed air storage (CAES): In CAES, air is compressed and stored in underground caverns or storage containers. When power is needed, compressed air expands through a turbine to generate electricity.

– Chemical energy storage: This approach involves the conversion of electrical energy into chemical energy through the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen or through the production of chemical compounds such as redox flow batteries.

– Flywheels: Flywheels are rotating devices that store kinetic energy. When power is needed, the kinetic energy of the flywheel is converted into electricity by a generator.

– Supercapacitors: They are energy storage devices that can be charged and discharged quickly. They are used in applications where rapid release of energy is required, such as in electric vehicles and backup systems.

– Geothermal storage: In some regions, the Earth’s heat is used to store geothermal energy. This is done by injecting hot water underground and then extracting it when needed to generate electricity.

-Storage with molten salts: Molten salts can store heat at high temperatures for an extended period. They are used in solar thermal power plants to provide power at night or on cloudy days.

The choice of large-scale energy storage technology depends on various factors, such as geographic location, required capacity, energy demand, and resource availability. Often a combination of different storage methods is used to achieve a reliable and sustainable energy supply.