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Italian companies partnering for expansion in Chile's small hydro market

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Italian companies Building Energy SpA and Scotta Group have formed a joint venture with the goal of expanding their presence in the Chilean hydroelecric power market.

The group, called Building Energy Anders SpA, will be based in Santiago and was drawn to the South American country's "increase in electricity demand, abundance of natural resources and a supportive regulatory environment."

Building Energy Andes will primarily focus on Chile's small hydro and solar markets -- both of which would benefit from tariffs specifically targeting renewable development.

"This alliance brings together two companies with significant experience and a strong commitment to Chile and South America as a whole," said Daniele Moriconi, Building Energy's managing director for Latin America.

The joint venture said it is already working on a US$37 million portfolio that will add a cumulative 30 MW to Chile's grid by the beginning of next year. These projects are located in the country's central regions where demand for power and consumer prices are both higher than average.

Scotta, an equipment manufacturer and supplier, has been active in Chile for more than a decade. HydroWorld.com reported it and Italian developer Idroenergia formed an investment fund in 2007 with plans to build 15 small hydropower projects.

Hydropower in Chile
With one of Latin America's quickest growing economies through the past decade, Chile's need for electricity is expected to increase from about 75 TWh now to more than 100 TWh by the end of the decade, meaning it will need over 8 GW of new capacity to meet demand.

Data from the International Hydropower Association shows the country currently has about 7,050 MW of total installed hydropower capacity, though the government's National Energy Strategy calls for nearly a 50% increase in hydro by 2024.

Included in that is a governmental desire to construct 100 new small hydropower plants, though a number of developers are working on larger projects as well. Amongst the most significant are the 111-MW Chacayes, 125-MW Nido de Aguilas and 531-MW Alto Maipo.

For more news from Latin America, visit here.

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