Chile has long been regarded as a country that is strongly dependent on imported fuels. Its growing demand for energy is satisfied by burning of coal and diesel. The country is also a big LNG importer.
This strong dependence on fossil fuels is accompanied by a continuous growth of power generation costs and electricity prices. When the marginal cost of 1 MWh of electricity in Chile exceeded 240 USD, the Chilean government became interested in renewable energy sources, photovoltaics in particular, and in ways to attract foreign capital to its energy sector in order to decisively change the modes of producing energy.
The most important renewable technologies in the Chilean market are hydropower, sunlight and wind solutions. The growing importance of Chile’s renewable energy sector is fuelled by the lack of regulations impairing RES development and economic and political environment, friendly to energy-related innovations.
In 2018, after five years of rapid development of various renewable technologies, the country managed to increase the share of this sector in the entire energy market from 5 to 18 per cent.
The total capacity of 10 largest photovoltaic power plants in Chile amounts to 1,173 MW, while the largest installation generates 196 MW. Chile is going to increase the share of renewable sources up to 60 per cent by 2035 and further up to 70 per cent by 2050. Given the current speed of implementing RES technologies, these objectives might be achieved even earlier.
Like in the photovoltaics area, the total capacity of 10 major wind power plants in Chile exceeds 1 GW. Works are being conducted within several new projects. The leader here is Colbun, a company whose wind power plant of 607 MW will be one of world’s largest installations of this kind.
Taking into account long-term objectives of the government, one should expect fast development both in the context of solar energy and wind-generated power. The plans provide for keeping up this pace and Chile has the opportunity to become a model for successful implementation of RES solutions.