By Alexandre Spatuzza in Sao Paulo

Australian power company Pacific Hydro started the construction of the 82MW Punta Sierra wind farm – its first in Chile – targeting the start of commercial operations in 2018.

The company, which is controlled by China’s State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC), announced the start of construction works in the presence of energy minister Andrés Rebolledo.

Total investment in the project is estimated at $150m and it will be built with 32, 2.5MW Goldwind machines at hub heights of 150 metres.

Pacific Hydro has been developing Punta Sierra, located in the country’s northern Coquimbo province, since 2008 when the first wind measurements were carried out.

Pacific Hydro has approximately 500MW of operational hydroelectric power plants in Chile and operates 58MW of wind capacity in Brazil.

Goldwind is also growing its presence in the region, with more than 100MW of turbines spinning in Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Bolivia and Cuba.

Since being taken over by SPIC, Pacific Hydro’s Chile manager José Valés has told local press the company wants speed up energy projects in Chile, focusing on wind, hydro and PV.

Chile currently has about 1GW of wind installed and a target to reach a 70% renewable power supply by 2050.