Chile Renewables Growth – Project Pipeline Overview
Latin America has been growing its renewable energy exponentially. The one country that stands out is Chile who has established a competitive renewable energy market with historically low auction prices. Chile has dramatically increased its solar and wind capacity since 2015. The government both past and present have been vocal about the countries goal to generate up to 70 percent of its electricity through renewable energy sources by the year 2030.
Currently, Chile has 29.5GW of installed capacity already in operation. The energy matrix breaks down into the following – solar 18%, coal 16%, diesel 14%, wind 13%, natural gas 13%, hydroelectric dams 12%, and run-of-the-river hydroelectric 11%. Biomass, geothermal energy, and other technologies make up the remaining amount.
The trend continues as there is a significant number of projects already under construction and submitted to environmental evaluations.
Total Projects in Construction
- There are 306 power generation projects that are in the construction phase as of June 30th.
- The combined installed capacity of all these projects is 5.44GW which are due to start operation by 2025.
- Of these projects, 271 are solar projects with a combined capacity of 4,077MW, 11 are wind a combined capacity of 724MW, 9-mini run-of-the river hydroelectric plants with a combined capacity of 42MW, and 4 are conventional run-of-the-river power plants with a capacity of 505MW.
Projects in Environmental Evaluation
- There have been approx. 42 energy projects submitted for evaluation or accepted for processing since the beginning of the year that have an investment value of US$3.87bn
- According to SEA data, there is 117 energy projects in both the transmission and generation sectors being evaluated that amount to US$11.8bn. The majority of these were solar projects.
Top 3 Project Under Evaluation
|ERNC Antofagasta by Ibereólica ERNC Antofagasta
|Parque Terra Energía Renovable by Energía Eólica Paposo (AES)
Parque Eólico Antofagasta by Ibereólica
It is no surprise that Chile is leading the way for Latin America. The country is host to the Atacama Desert, one of the world’s best solar radiation sites located in the north. The Magallanes region located in the far south has excellent wind energy potential. In 2020, foreign direct investments into Chile’s renewable energy sector accounted for 41.6% of all investment in the country. Not a small accomplishment for a country that receives significant foreign investment in a variety of sectors.
Growth will surely continue since the country has several initiatives in the works that will require more energy capacity. The country looks to phase out coal power plants in the short term and there is a clear hydrogen strategy with several projects already announced and progressing through evaluations.
It is not all rosy though. Electricity prices for consumers have risen recently due to the price of diesel. Diesel generation has been used to manage the renewables intermittency. Electricity prices in the north drop dramatically during the day when capacity is it at its highest. To deal with these issues, the government and private industry are focusing on energy storage, building out transmission to bring energy to the south where there is more demand, and connecting to neighboring countries so that electricity can be exported.
In the short term, there are some hurdles as the country progresses with the transition but for a small country, Chile has been able to radically transform its energy matrix in a very short period of time with no government subsidies. Something that should spark confidence when the country discusses its lofty goals around hydrogen.
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