Chile's Colbun awarded contract to build Latin America's largest wind farm

SANTIAGO, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Chilean electricity generator and distributor Colbun SA was awarded the rights to build the largest wind farm in Latin America, which will require an investment of nearly $1 billion, after a global bidding process, the government said on Wednesday.

The Ministry of National Assets opened bidding for some 8,000 hectares (19,768 acres) of federal lands in the northern region of Antofagasta in November. Colbun's wind farm will have the capacity to generate 607 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 730,000 homes.

That represents about half the country's current wind capacity of 1,429 megawatts, Energy Minister Andres Rebolledo said in a statement.

"It's a very important leap for Chile," Rebolledo said.

Chile's desert climate and long coastline make solar and wind energy viable prospects, especially as the prices power providers charge to supply users with energy generated from renewable sources have plunged. Last week, conservative presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera called for an all-renewable grid by 2040.

(Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)