19% of Chile's electricity to be solar in 2050

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The Ministry of Energy fixed this week its objective that in 2050 no less than 70% of electric demand is going to be met with renewable energy sources, which represents an increase of 58% with respect to actual renewable generating facilities.

In Roadmap to 2050: A Sustainable and Inclusive Strategy, the government ruled out for now the introduction of nuclear power plants and places special emphasis on the building of new wind and solar power plants, complemented by new hydroelectric projects.

To reach that goal, the report points to a higher penetration of solar and wind technologies, with targets to deploy more than 20 gigawatts of each. In this way, 19% of the electric demand will be met with solar energy, 23% with wind energy and 29% with small hydro, run-of-river hydro or hydroelectric reservoirs.

The roadmap also indicates the need to install mechanisms for intelligent regulation of demand and storage technologies as the percentage of wind and solar increase.

Short-term measures include the elimination of barriers to competition in generation and adjustment of the transmission regulation, in order to improve the processes of auctions for distributors. The roadmap also proposes assigning public and private funds for the improvement of the competitiveness of prioritized sources (solar, wind and hydropower), without subsidies which distort the electric market.

In the medium term, the report calls for the creation of mechanisms for auctions for unregulated customer groups, monitoring the funding of the market and supporting competition, along with transparency of information in the contract market.

The report also considers the necessity of enlarging the use of instruments for carbon taxes or for “cap and trade” systems for limiting and trading emissions, to mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions in the sector. Regarding a tax as the principal instrument for global emissions, it recommends an increase from the actual level to US$5 per megawatt hour as the form most effective for reducing emissions. Regarding cap and trade, the traded amount would be defined based on national commitments to meet long-term goals.

The roadmap is the result of more than one year of work from the Consultative Committee on Energy 2050 which involved 27 experts. A review of the plan is scheduled for the year 2020 to introduce adjustment mechanisms (such as price mechanisms, corrective procurement and adaptation of standards and regulations), if positive progress is not being made towards the target of 70% renewable electricity. It also analyzes the feasibility of alternatives not currently considered such as bioenergy, ocean energy and nuclear energy.

Translation by Christian Roselund. The original version of this article in Spanish can be read on the pv magazine LatinoAmerica website.