Statkraft bins hydro project in Chile after indigenous consultation
Small hydropower plant (HPP).
Norwegian energy group Statkraft has given up of building a dam-toe hydroelectric plant in south-central Chile out of respect for local indigenous communities who consider the project site on the Pilmaiquen river their sacred ground.
Statkraft’s Chilean unit said on Thursday it had made the decision to abandon the Osorno hydro power project following a years-long dialogue with the Mapuche-Huilliche peoples, recognising the cultural and religious significance of the site. The power plant would have negatively impacted the residents’ religious expression and ceremonies associated with Ngen Kintuante, a spiritual being that is believed to dwell in the project’s area of influence.
As a result, the company has renounced its resolution of environmental qualification, akin to an environmental permit, and all water rights associated with the Osorno project, it said.
"We believe in dialogue, we believe in respect and in the will to find spaces for agreement. […] Our commitment is to advance in the restitution of these lands to the local communities," Statkraft Chile's general manager, Maria Teresa Gonzalez, said in the company's statement.
Statkraft already has a run-of-river hydroelectric plant in operation on the Pilmaiquen river and its currently building another one some 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) downstream. Elsewhere in Chile, the company is working on the installation of three wind farms, which together will give it 105 MW of new capacity.
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