The purpose of these companies is to take advantage of geothermal energy emanating from the underground to use it in various production processes, whether by producing electricity or using the steam.
ENAP is involved in the development of geothermal energy, through its participating interest in Empresa Nacional de Geotermia S.A. (49%) and Geotérmica del Norte S.A. (44%), which are conducting research on the potential of this non-conventional renewable energy. Both companies are associated with the Italian company ENEL.
In April 2005, ENAP made a strategic alliance with the Italian company Ente Nazionale per l'Energia Elettrica (ENEL) for the development of geothermal exploration and production projects in Chile. This was carried out through the acquisition by ENEL of a 51% shareholding in Empresa Nacional de Geotermia S.A. (ENG), a company in which ENAP holds the remaining 49%.
In March 2006, this strategic alliance was widened with the acquisition by ENEL of 51% of the shares in Geotérmica del Norte S.A. (GDN), the remaining 49% of the shares being held by ENAP and CODELCO, with 44% and 5% respectively.
Law 19,657, on Geothermal Energy Concessions, enacted on January 7, 2000, allows the participation of ENAP in this industry and to take part in companies for developing this business with a shareholding of less than 50%. Therefore, ENAP has become partner of top-level Chilean and international companies for developing this non-conventional renewable energy with the highest standards.
The basic principle for electricity generation from geothermal sources consists of the drilling of wells which draw the fluid stored on the earth’s crust (at high temperatures) to the surface and then separate the steam and saline waters. The liquids are returned to the deposit and the steam that arises at high pressure is taken by tubes to a plant where it passes through a turbine to produce electricity.
According to the Kyoto Protocol, Geothermal Energy is one of the more benign forms of electricity generation. It is an efficient source of non-conventional renewable energy that, unlike other energy sources, does not commit large areas of land and does not require the flooding of natural valleys and hillsides.