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DEBACLE IN THE DESERT: ACCIDENT HIGHLIGHTS CHILE'S ENERGY PROBLEMS

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/11023

DEBACLE IN THE DESERT: ACCIDENT HIGHLIGHTS CHILE'S ENERGY PROBLEMS

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Title: DEBACLE IN THE DESERT: ACCIDENT HIGHLIGHTS CHILE'S ENERGY PROBLEMS
Author: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar
Subject: Chile
energy problems
experimental electricity project
Atacama dessert
Geotermica del Norte
GDN
geothermal electricity plan
enviromentally friendly energy source
renewable energy
Enel
Empresa Nacional de Petroleo
ENAP
Corporacion Nacional de Cobre de Chile
CODELCO
El Tatio
artificial geyser
geothermal scape
tourist destination
national treasure
Agrupacion Turistica y Medioambiental de San Pedro de Atacama
Atyma
environmental damage
Marcelo Tokman
Comision Regional de Medio Ambiente
COREMA
environmental groups
energy policy
renewable energy legislation
market
Endesa
AES Gener
Colbun
hydroelectric dams
fossil fuel
environmentally friendly technologies
environmental costs
Ecosistemas
hydroelectric plant
Parque Nacional Puyehue
Reserva Nacional Rio de los Cipreses
Atacama
nonconventional renewable energy
electricity development
geothermal energy
GDN venture
Abstract: A high-profile mishap involving an experimental electricity project near one of Chile's top tourist attractions has exposed serious shortcomings in the country's laissez-faire approach to energy production. Last year environmental authorities in Region II, an area of northern Chile that contains the high-plains Atacama desert, gave energy company Geotermica del Norte (GDN) permission to conduct exploratory drilling on what promised to be the country's first geothermal electricity plant. Geothermal facilities harness energy from underground hot springs (steam) to push conventional turbines. Considered a renewable and environmentally friendly energy source, the technique is used in more than 20 countries worldwide but accounts for just a tiny fraction (0.3%) of the planet's total electricity production. But in early September something went horribly awry. One of the wells sprang a leak that breached the surface in the form of a 60-meter plume of boiling water, steam, and subterranean gasses. The artificial geyser raged for nearly a month before GDN was finally able to cap it.
Date: 2009-10-23
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/11023


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