Companies continue to bet on the so-called "fuel of the future". One of them is Colbun, which, to the initiatives already promoted, adds a new step. The Matte family's power company will develop a green hydrogen project for the Nehuenco Thermoelectric Power Plant, located in the Valparaiso Region, whose installed capacity is 887 MW. The complex has three generation units, whose main fuel is natural gas.
Currently, the company purchases gray hydrogen for the cooling process of its units II and III of Nehuenco. However, the project, which involves an investment of around US$ 1 million, will enable an electrolyzer and a small solar plant, allowing them to generate their own green hydrogen at Nehuenco.
US$ 1 MILLION
of investment is involved in the project.
The initiative, although smaller, is significant for Colbún, because it will be the first green hydrogen molecules produced by the company. It will allow replacing gray hydrogen by green hydrogen and this will be the first project with this fuel in a generation plant in Chile.
The company highlights the environmental benefit, as it will avoid emitting nine tons of CO2 per year.
The system considers 100 kw of installed power, in a plant that will be located next to the power plant facilities. In terms of water consumption, it will require only 30 liters per day. Along these lines, Colbún workers will be trained to operate the system.
As for the deadlines involved, the project will begin construction in early 2024, and production is expected to start by the end of that same year.
Given the installed capacity of the solar plant involved, the project will not require an environmental assessment. The company is currently in the process of quoting equipment (electrolyzers, hydrogen storage tanks, photovoltaic panels, control system, among others).
The green strategy
From Colbún they detail that the strategy to approach this new business includes both projects for domestic consumption and for the export market. In both cases, they say, collaboration with its customers and/or partners is fundamental. Therefore, they emphasize, "we are already generating alliances with different companies to achieve a scope that will allow us to multiply our strengths and our impact".
In this context, Colbún is also looking for opportunities to use green hydrogen in its own processes. "The use of green hydrogen in the cooling systems of the Nehuenco Complex is one such project," he says.
Regarding the initiative, Colbún's green hydrogen manager, Juan Pablo Fiedler, says they are convinced that green hydrogen will play an increasingly relevant role in many industrial processes. "This project arises precisely from that vision, that is, to identify our own industrial processes where we can use green hydrogen," he says. Fiedler adds: "And although Nehuenco will be the first, we have already detected other processes where we can advance in this same direction".
For the executive, the Nehuenco project will be a learning opportunity that will allow them, he says, "to deepen our technological knowledge, strengthen the relationship with suppliers and continue the search for options to improve the performance and efficiency of the use of this green fuel.
Colbún has already made three previous incursions into this new industry. The first was an alliance with Cummins and Komatsu to promote electromobility. Then, it participated in an agreement with Nuevo Pudahuel in which it seeks to make Santiago Airport the first in Latin America to operate with green hydrogen. And, at the beginning of 2023, the electricity company and the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation Group formed an alliance to study the feasibility of green hydrogen projects aimed at producing green ammonia in the regions of Antofagasta and Magallanes.
- green hydrogen