Chile has inaugurated the Cerro Pabellon geothermal energy plant in the northern region of Antofagasta, the first in South America, which the government said will increase electricity services to the population.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet inaugurated the plant, which has an investment of US$320 million and is also the highest plant built at 4,500 meters above sea level.
'This is the kind of projects that do good for Chile," Bachelet said. "It generates investments, it brings technological innovation, it creates the basis for sustainable development and is a strong bet for training people."
The project is built by Italian company Enel Green Power, who have 83.65 percent ownership, in an agreement with the Chilean National Petroleum Company, with 16.35 percent.
"Now: President @mbachelet inaugurates ENEL-ENAP Geothermal plant, in this way the state company enters the electric generation area."
After it begins operations, the plant will create 340 megawatts a year, which equals the annual use of electricity for 165,000 Chilean families, according to Bachelet.
The president also said the geothermal plant will eliminate the emission of more than 166,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the Earth's atmosphere.
"Today we closed a chapter in the search to use geothermal energy in Chile and we begin a new stage," head of ENAP Marcelo Tockman said.
"An effort of almost a hundred years ... and which illustrates precisely the role our company has today to articulate projects and solutions that promote a sustainable energy future."
Latin America relies on hydropower for 55 percent of its electricity and fossil fuels for 40 percent, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.
On the other hand, geothermal energy only makes up 5 percent of the power capacity in Central America, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Geothermal power is not vulnerable to the effects of climate change like droughts and temperature rise and provides a continuous supply of clean energy along the mountain range of active volcanoes in Latin America.