Leading Irish renewable energy firm Mainstream Renewable Power has backed Chile’s suitability for wind energy by ploughing $1 billion over the next five years to build wind farms in the country, the company has said in a statement

Part of an alliance formed with Chile’s Andes Energy, the project is expected to generate more than 400 MW of electricity and supply power to more than 300,000 homes, said a weekend report by the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Pointing out the scheme was merely a “starting point”, Jose Ignacio Escobar, Mainstream’s general manager in Chile, said: “If we can install not 400, but instead 800, 1,500 or 2,000 megawatts, we’re going to do it,”Escobar said.

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The conglomerate’s first wind farm will be built at Laguna Verde, near Valparaiso, and is expected to be operational by next year. Several other areas across the country had been selected as possible sites for wind farms, making use of the excellent wind conditions around the Latin American country.

“Our research shows that Chile has the natural resources to develop 44,000 megawatts of wind energy and another 37,000 of solar energy,” said company CEO Eddie O’Connor.

He added that “renewable energy resources alone can turn Chile into an exporter of clean energies” saying that he had presented a report to Chilean Energy Minister Marcelo Tokman outlining how the country could achieve energy independence.

The move away from dependence on fossil fuel energy sources would be welcomed said environmental group Chile Sustentable head Sara Larraín to the Patagonia Times.

“Between 1984 and today, Chile went from producing 1.8 tons of CO2 per capita annually to four tons, which represents a 190 percent increase in emissions,” she said.

“This is the result of an energy policy that continues using a false criteria of ‘technological neutrality,’” she added. “The companies don’t account for the environmental costs of their thermoelectric generators and therefore opt for coal, which is the most polluting.”

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