Bringing Power Reliability to Chile

The largest power transmission line in this South American country connects the north and the south, thus providing greater power reliability and stability.

After more than seven years of collaboration between ISA Interchile and WSP (formely ConCol), the most important energy project in Chile is now in operation.

This vast project strengthens the interconnection of the Northern Interconnected System (SING) and the Central Interconnected System (SIC), bringing greater electrical supply reliability in the country. 

The new line, which is the most important energy project in Chile of the last 50 years, uses a 500 kV double circuit line, covering approximately 800 km of land and connecting four substations: Nueva Cardones - Nueva Maitencillo - Nueva Pan de Azucar - Polpaico.

Length
753 km
Number of towers
1,728
Voltage
500 kV

Three projects in one

The Cardones - Polpaico transmission line has been carried out as a single project, subdivided by lots of transmission lines, with their own challenges:

  • Lot 1 in the Atacama region, between Copiapó and Huasco, connects the Nueva Cardones and Nueva Maitencillo substations.
  • Lot 2 in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions, runs from Huasco to the Elqui province, connecting the Nueva Maitencillo and Nueva Pan de Azúcar substations. 
  • Lot 3 crosses the regions of Coquimbo, Valparaíso and Metropolitana, passing through the provinces of Elqui, Limarí, Choapa, Petorca, Quillota, Marga Marga and Chacabuco. It connects the Nueva Pan de Azúcar and Polpaico substations.

Some of the project’s most important challenges were related to working in a new environment. Adjusting to Chile’s customs, laws and seasons were all different aspects of this. 

For instance, changes had to be made to the Lot 1 schedule because the crossing of the Atacama Desert was first planned during spring time, which is blooming season. Another challenge was the use of machinery to make the foundations. In Peru and Colombia foundations are usually made manually because of the difficult terrain.

“WSP was present from the beginning of the project and was actively involved until it was put into operation, thanks to a strategic alliance with ISA,” says Pedro Nel Ovalle, Vice President of Energy WSP in Chile.

WSP called upon approximately 120 professionals to provide the following services:

  • Pre-engineering of transmission lines for the preparation of offer by ISA.
  • Detailed design of transmission lines.
  • Supervision and control of technical and environmental work of transmission lines.

“The development of this project reinforces the positioning of WSP in the electricity market in Chile, with a high degree of safety, reliability, competitiveness and efficiency,” indicated Carlos Peña, portfolio manager.