Chile’s Ministry of Energy wants to have 19% of the country’s electricity generated by solar in 35 years. Hydro, oil, gas, and coal generate most of it currently. Wind and solar have a very small presence but are growing. Solar in particular was robust in Chile – in 2012, Chile was the most active in this field among the developing countries, according to the World Bank.
Chile has about 741 MW of PV solar power installed currently, with more than 2 GW under construction.
In September of 2015, solar power there generated about 2.3% of all electricity in the grid system. This figure could hit 8% when the projects currently under construction are completed and become operational. A near quadrupling in solar power in a short period of time would be quite a feat. If Chile achieves this goal, will it be reported globally and become an example to all?
Well, based on history, one might expect the mainstream American media will probably ignore it. It might not report such a solar power surge in America either.
Chile doesn’t want to stop at 19% solar, as it wants to go all the way to about 70% of its electricity production from a suite of renewable sources by 2050. “Recent studies show that Chile has an estimated potential of more than 1.8 million MW in NCRE projects, including solar technology PV [photovoltaics], CSP [concentrated solar power], wind, mini-hydro, biogas/biomass, geothermal and marine,” explained Carlos Finat, executive director at ACERA.
To reach the 70% renewables goal, Chile is targeting 20 GW of solar and 20 GW of wind power. Fortunately, both of these goals seem feasible considering Chile has very good solar radiation and high winds to take advantage of going forward.
One of the most fascinating things about this surge in renewable energy is the impact it could have on national economies. When a country imports most of its fossil fuels to burn to make electricity, it obviously is paying out a lot of money. However, when it begins to generate more and more of its own electricity from internal resources, the amount of money it can save over the long-term could be used to support its own economy. Fluctuating oil and natural gas prices also put buyers at the mercy of the energy markets, but this impact will be reduced as they wean themselves off of fossil fuels.
Image Credit: Sérgio Schmiegelow, Wiki Commons