Villa Las Araucarias, Chile

Villa Las Araucarias (VLA) is a community of ~ 25 homes located ~ 25 km inland from the coast in Region IX in Central Chile. VLA is a pilot project for regional off-grid electrification. The project was coordinated by NREL in the U.S. and CNE in Chile. Major funding was provided by the U.S. Dept. of Energy through NREL and the equipment was purchased through a competitive bid.

VLA has a Bergey 7.5 kW wind turbine on a locally built 24 m (80 ft) guyed Tilt-up tower, a 48 VDC battery bank, a Trace 4.5 kW (50 Hz) inverter, and a 5 kW Honda back-up generator. The system was installed in 1997 by NREL and a local private sector utility company, Frontel.

The wind system has performed without problems, but the inverter was damaged after ~ one year due to a lightning strike and had to be substantially rebuilt. After the lightning strike it was determined that the tower grounding had not been installed correctly, leaving the system more susceptible to voltage surges.

There have also been some problems with the Honda generator and the local system management. But, overall, the system has been reliable. It seems, however, that the wind resource is less than expected so the diesel fuel consumption is higher than predicted.

The VLA project, along with two other NREL/CNE pilot projects in Region IX, have shown that wind/diesel systems are an effective alternative to diesel-only systems.

In Region X two additional pilot projects are underway and the Governors office and CNE have developed a plan to electrify ~ 40 villages in the Chiloe Islands with wind/diesel systems. Bergey WindPower now has an experienced dealer in Region X, Wireless Energy, and hopes to be actively involved with the Chiloe Islands project in the coming years.

The first pilot installation for the Chiloe Islands project was installed at Isla Tac in 2000. The president of Chile attended the inauguration of the system. You can view a report on the first year of operation by clicking here (1,158 KB, PDF). Use the "Back" button to return to this page.