A Renewable Future for Chile: new website about Chile's energy sector strengthens case against HidroAysén


I’m thrilled to announce the launch of www.futurorenovable.cl, a new website supported by NRDC that gathers and analyzes the most current information about Chile’s rapidly developing energy sector.  This site fills an important gap by presenting complex energy data in a way that is easy to understand, and by creating an open forum for dialogue about energy issues in Chile.

FuturoRenovable (“Renewable Future,” in English) is based on the 2009 technical study which proved that Chile’s energy supply through 2025 was more than secure, making HidroAysén and other proposed mega-dam projects unnecessary.  Since the book’s publication last summer, dynamic development and drastic changes in the energy sector have strengthened this argument.  To better understand how, consider the following example of recent energy demand growth in Chile’s largest grid (serving about 93% of the population):

In 2008 the National Energy Commission’s projected a 3.75% increase in energy demand for 2008, a 4.37% increase for 2009, and a 5.24% increase for 2010.  The 2009 study’s conclusions assumed a more modest 3% growth for both 2009 and 2010.  We now know that the energy demand actually fell in 2008 by -1.2% and by -0.2% in 2009, was at -2.4% through March in 2010.  The chart below makes these numbers easier to compare.

This means that the government’s 2008 calculations indicated energy demand to be 43,274GWh for 2009; the study’s authors expected it to be 42,708 GWh.  In reality it was just below 40,000 GWh last year.  This savings of roughly 3,500 GWh is significant – simply put:  last year Chile didn’t use nearly as much energy as the government had planned for.  The sheer number and unpredictability of variables involved—the economic crisis, gains in efficiency, etc.—make it that much more important to constantly update data so that the best possible plans can be made for the future.

But FuturoRenovable goes beyond just updating the report’s conclusions.  It also explains technical terms and calculations, illustrates the most recent demand trends from Chile’s two main power grids, analyzes these trends and what they mean for Chile, and presents basic data about HidroAysén.  Additional features will be added in coming weeks:

  • A section debunking common Chilean “Energy Myths”
  • A list of all operating, approved and proposed energy projects in Chile
  • Technical and analytical articles by regular contributors as well as guest authors
  • The latest relevant energy news
  • An English version of the material (it is currently in Spanish)

In short, FuturoRenovable will become a regularly-updated virtual forum for data, analysis and informed dialogue about Chile’s complex and ever-changing energy matrix. 

One key conclusion is already clear:  Chile does not need to rush to build new large energy plants.  Even after February’s devastating earthquake and its ensuing aftershocks, the subsequent blackouts and the general concern over energy security, FuturoRenovable shows that Chile already has more than enough installed capacity to meet its demand.  In fact, Energy Minister Ricardo Raineri supported this finding when he recently announced that the country’s energy supply is secure for the short term.  Nor does the country specifically need HidroAysén.  Instead of permitting more unsustainable energy projects, the government should take advantage of the variety of available alternatives to create a comprehensive, modern strategy for Chile’s energy future.


*CNE, Abril de 2008

**Se Necesitan Represas en la Patagonia? Un analysis del future energetic chileno, por Stephen Hall, Roberto Román, Felipe Cuevas and Pablo Sánchez

***www.FuturoRenovable.cl, “SIC y SING – Dos Sistemas, Dos Realidades”