Soaring Fossil Fuel Prices Accelerates Chile’s Green Energy Development

National Economy

The population of the Republic of Chile is approximately 19.47 million people[1]. In 2021, 100% of the people in this South American country had access to electricity[2].

In 2021, Chile’s economy was ranked 41st in the world in gross domestic product (GDP)[3]. The country’s economy[4] is dependent on the export of copper ore, refined copper, fish fillets, wood pulp, pitted fruits, molybdenum ore, and grapes.

Environment Policies

In 2013, Chile established a Renewable Energy Standard that utilities generate 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

In 2014, Chile enacted a carbon tax of U.S. $5.00/CO2 Ton on emissions from power plants with a capacity of greater than 50 MW.

In 2016, Chile signed the Paris Climate Agreement[5], committing to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 2030, compared to 2007 levels.

In 2021, utilities[6] used renewable energy (48.9 %), coal (18.0 %), natural gas (18.0 %), and oil (15.1  %) to generate electricity in Chile. Hydropower, solar, and wind are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Chile.

Recent renewable energy developments in Chile include:

  • 220 MW Solar Project – Spanish renewable energy company, Grenergy is continuing work on the Gabriela Photovoltaic project at a site approximately 750 miles north of the nation’s capital, Santiago. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
  • 210 MW Solar Project – In April 2021, Spanish renewable energy companies, Abengoa and Acciona commissioned the Cerro Dominador Solar Power Plant at a site approximately 700 miles north of Santiago.
  • 200 MW Solar Project – Chilean utility, Generadora Metropolitana  is continuing work on the Solar La Pampina project at a site approximately 775 miles north of Santiago. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 141 MW Solar Project – In August 2020, American solar company, First Solar commissioned the Luz del Norte solar project at a site approximately 450 miles north of Santiago.
  • 123 MW Solar Project – In March 2020, Spanish solar company, Solarpack commissioned the Granja solar project at a site approximately 1,000 miles north of Santiago.
  • 102 MW Wind Project – Norwegian renewable energy company, Statkraft is continuing work on a wind project at a site approximately 75 miles south of Santiago. The project is scheduled to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • 9 MW Solar Project – In July 2022, European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere commissioned a solar array that will provide power the world’s largest telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.
  • Solar Water Pump Project – In April 2021, Chilean renewable energy company, Lader Energy commissioned a solar project, which is capable of producing 10,000 liters of potable water per month from the humidity in the air. The project is located in the city of San Fernando, approximately 75 miles south of Santiago.

Chile imports the majority of the nation’s fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for power generation, heating, and transportation. In 2020, Chile spent[7] U.S. $2.91 Billion for imported refined petroleum and U.S. $1.90 Billion for imported crude oil.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the United States, Canada, and the European Union placing embargos on Russian exports. The international price for crude oil has increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

Chile has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, and hydropower. The rapid rise in the cost of fossil fuels in 2022 is causing Chile to accelerate the development of green, low cost renewable energy.

 

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jack kerfoot.com

 

Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.

 

[1] Chile Population (2021) –  August 29, 2022, www.worldometers.info

[2] World Bank, “Access To Electricity (% Population) – Chile

[3] Gross Domestic Product By Country 2021 – Worldometer

[4] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Chile

[5] Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[6] Our World In Data, Chile:  Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

[7] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Chile Imports

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