The Diario Financiero reported Friday on a study that found that 13% of all projected energy investments in Chile in the next four years will involve “Non-Conventional Renewable Energy” sources (ERNC in the Spanish acronym). Chile’s Corporación de Desarrollo Tecnológico de Bienes de Capital (CBC), claims that 42 renewable projects, representing investments of some US$ 3.8 billion, are planned by 2014, although this number is far smaller than the total US$ 28.6 billion to be spent on all energy projects (most of which will go to thermoelectric y large-scale hydro generation).
Investments in Chile’s renewable energy industry have picked up speed in the last two years as a result of a 2008 law requiring requiring that 5% of total production in new energy contracts must be provided by non-conventional sources (this ramps up to 10% by 2024). The law defines “Energias Renovables No Convencioniales” as wind, biomass, geothermal, and small hydroelectric projects (under 20 MW). In addition to the substantial Calama solar park currently in construction (see previous post), the Chilean government announced last week that it will award tenders for two other solar parks with a combined capacity of 10.5 MW (one will be located in San Pedro de Atacama and the other in a different site in the north to be defined later).
While some industry experts have expressed doubts that the Chilean utilities can comply with the 2010 deadline, three of the large electricity providers claim to be on track. AeS Gener has mentioned that it will count on its existing water rights that would be suitable for smaller hydroelectric plants, while Endesa already operates the 18 MW Canela wind park. E-CL is looking to acquire renewable capacity already in place by purchasing assets from Monte Redondo (Suez) and it has also proposed building solar and wind generation.
Perhaps a more immediate challenge to building out electricity generation from renewable sources in Chile is a bottleneck in transmission capacity. Juan Carlos Araneda, the head of Transelec told El Mercurio today:
Proyectos por unos 1,000 MW (el doble del complejo Colbún-Machicura), si bien podrán conectarse a la red, no podrán operar con normalidad. Se trata de iniciativas por nada menos que US$ 2 mil millones, que en su mayoría tienen permisos ambientales, pero no han iniciado su construcción, entre otros factores, porque sus gestores no tienen certeza de que podrán inyectar toda su capacidad al sistema…