Chile’s ambitious goals to lead renewable energy

The objective is that by 2050, 70% of the energy consumed in Chile is from sources such as solar thermal, photovoltaic or wind energy, which adds to the announcement of the decarbonization plan.

Chile is inspiring the world with a significant expansion of solar energy, faster than any other country on the planet. (The State of) Florida could mimic this progress just as quickly, which would lead not only to reduce electricity bills, but also to generate jobs. ” The statements belong to Al Gore, former vice president of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize and one of the most recognized voices worldwide in the fight against climate change. He made them in 2017, in the newspaper El Nuevo Herald in Miami, as part of the promotion of his documentary “An awkward sequel: the truth to power” and in response to Donald Trump’s denial attitude towards the climate crisis.

In the aforementioned documentary, Gore points out that Chile has had the highest growth of solar energy in the world. And today, in 2019, this scenario continues to progress thanks to a set of factors that combine. The most relevant is the availability within abundant renewable resources such as sun, wind, water and geothermal energy, which are distributed homogeneously in the country. To this is added a long-term energy policy, the reduction of the costs of renewable technologies, a greater awareness of the consumers themselves who have chosen sustainable energy supplies and a private world willing to invest massively in these technologies.

According to José Ignacio Escobar, President of ACERA (Chilean Association of Renewable Energies), “between 2010 and 2011 Chile had an installed capacity ERNC (non-conventional renewable energy) of about 500 MW and in just five years we managed to make a jump to more than 5,000 MW of installed power. This has allowed us to gain visibility of the world and we have taken the lead and leadership at the regional level. ” And he exemplifies: “Permanently, Chile appears in the top positions in the E&Y and Bloomberg indices with respect to investments in renewable energy.”

4354/5000″Our natural condition is privileged,” says the Minister of Energy, Juan Carlos Jobet. “But the development of energy projects has been possible thanks to our recognized institutional and economic stability, which allows us to deliver certainty to developers to invest in these new sources of generation,” he adds. In addition, he adds, an appropriate regulatory framework has been defined that enables the incorporation of such sources in a competitive and sustainable manner. The head of Energy explains that a key point in this process has been the marked decrease in the costs that these types of technologies have had in recent times, “where every year we witness new record prices in the development of new projects.”
The great challenge

The challenge of being one of the leading countries in NCRE and with a safe, efficient and sustainable energy matrix is ??not only in the ranking. As a complement to the announced -and questioned by some sectors- decarbonization plan of the energy matrix (which considers the withdrawal of eight coal-fired power plants within five years and, as a final goal in 2040, the closure of the remaining thermoelectric plants in the country), what is sought today is that by 2050, 70% of the energy consumed in Chile comes from clean and renewable sources, in addition to large hydroelectric plants.

To achieve this, experts warn, it is necessary to complete stages and the most immediate is 20/25, which states that by 2025 an annual participation of 20% of NCREs would be achieved. In this regard, José Ignacio Escobar points out that “in either case, I have no doubt that the goals and ambitions will be short. According to our estimates, Chile could perfectly reach 90% of renewable energy by 2030, of which two thirds would be non-conventional renewable energy, ”he says.

For his part, the Minister of Energy, Juan Carlos Jobet, confirms Escobar’s estimates, stating that “in 2018 our country reached 46% renewable generation for electricity production. Exceeding the goal of 70% by 2050, it undoubtedly implies a challenge for the entire sector in terms of new energy developments ”. However, he warns, different studies carried out by both the Ministry of Energy and also by the private sector indicate that, given the level of integration of renewable energy that is expected in the future, and given the commitment to decarbonization that the generation companies signed with the Ministry of Energy, it is likely that this goal was achieved beforehand and that by 2050 it has been widely exceeded. It also ensures that meeting decarbonization goals, such as those of NCRE, require the collaboration of all actors, both public and private, to advance in a set of cost-efficient measures, such as greater renewable integration for both electrical and thermal uses, the implementation of energy efficiency measures, the integration of efficient and sustainable transport, the incorporation of new energy solutions, among others.
Today, the most installed ERNC technologies in Chile are the photovoltaic solar, then the wind and in the third place the mini-hydraulics of the past. Although at present there is a great interest of the public and private sector to promote them all, including bioenergy, geothermal energy and promptly of solar power concentration.

In 2016, MERIC, the Center for Research and Innovation in Marine Energy, was inaugurated in Chile, which seeks to boost the development of ocean energy in a territory that has a coastline of more than four thousand kilometers. José Ignacio Escobar, President of the Chilean Association of Renewable Energies, thinks that Chile’s potential in renewable energies is so great that “we can certainly think of the ambition to export clean energy to our neighbors in the future.” But first, he adds, “we must leave at home and worry about ending Chile’s energy transition. We must not forget this is a special year, because we will be the host of COP 25 and it is time to show off in environmental terms, assume more strongly the pending commitments and increase the ambition to achieve zero net emissions by 2050 ”.