August - Chile: Investing in renewable energy

Chile is making significant strides to transition toward a green economy through investment in renewable energy.

Chile, August 2015 - Currently, the country leads South America in adoption of solar PV energy with 0.5 GW installed, more than much larger countries like Brazil and Mexico, and an additional 1.1 GW of renewable energy expected to be brought online in 2015 with 680 MW of solar PV and 419 MW of wind power. Chile is investing heavily in renewable energy opportunities with more than 1.3 billion USD invested in wind and solar electricity generation in the second quarter of 2015.

Chile’s National Energy Strategy (2012-2030) explicitly identifies expanding non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE) production as a priority. Construction has begun on Cerro Pabellón, in Antofagasta, Chile, the first geothermal power plant in South America. The plant is expected to mitigate 155,000 tons of CO2 per year by producing 340 GWh, the equivalent energy used annually to power 154,000 homes in Chile. It is estimated that Chile geothermal potential may be as high as 3,600 MW.

Chilean mineral producers are investing in independent geothermal, wind, solar, and solar thermal energy instead of importing fossil fuels in order to minimize costs and reduce their environmental footprint. Mining is a pillar of the Chilean economy, contributing to 15% of GDP and 39% of energy demand. This approach to independent renewable energy has been gaining traction in Chile where the 4th Renewables and Mining Summit & Exhibition was held in Santiago in 2015.

Chile is also working with PAGE partner agency, UNDP, to  initiate small-scale renewable projects in two regions, Los Rios and Antofagasta, in order to improve access to electricity and reduce energy costs in regional areas.