Clean Energy in Chile

Chile has the opportunity to become a leader in clean and sustainable energy generation. To achieve this, the country must commit to developing its non-conventional renewable energy resources -- options already proven to be technically viable, economically competitive and a valuable addition to Chile's energy mix -- and to prioritizing its energy efficiency options. NRDC works with local and international partners to support the growth of these important sectors with technical and economic analyses, policy studies and recommendations, and collaborative processes.

Envisioning a Sustainable Chile

The Chilean energy sector faces a number of challenges as the country looks to support and sustain what has been impressive economic growth, manage energy costs and ensure reliability, provide universal energy access, and meet increasingly ambitious and important environmental targets. These challenges can be successfully addressed if Chile turns decisively to a renewable energy based growth path.

This analysis employs SWITCH -- a long term capacity expansion model developed in the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley -- to analyze different scenarios for the Chilean electricity grid's evolution from 2011-2031. The objective is to highlight the consequences of higher adoption of renewable resources and constrained hydrocarbon and transmission expansion.

From Good to Great: The Next Step in Chilean Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is important for Chile. In fact, it is the first pillar of the National Energy Strategy 2012-2030, which adopts the goal of reducing Chile's 2020 projected energy consumption by 12 percent. Different stakeholders -- politicians, academics, technical experts -- agree that energy efficiency should be a priority in any long term energy policy. However, it is unlikely that the current efforts to improve energy efficiency in Chile are going to help the country achieve its potential. These efforts are good, but not great.

NRDC collaborated with Chilean and international experts to identify public policies, based on experiences from other countries that could help Chile overcome some of the barriers to its energy efficiency sector. In this report, we recommend that the national government address these problems by transparently building a strong framework for Chile's long-term sustained success in improving energy efficiency. We also suggest the government adopt effective, proven strategies for specific sectors to increase energy efficiency within that framework.

The Economic Benefits of Non-Conventional Renewable Energy

Chile has world class natural resources for renewable energy generation. The country also has a stable and strong economy, and significant interest from national and international private sector in developing these resources. In its National Energy Strategy 2012–2030, the government recognized the important role renewables can play in building a diversified, stable and prosperous energy future. The question, then, is exactly how significant should this role be?

To address this issue, NRDC teamed up with the Chilean Renewable Energy Association (ACERA) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to analyze the economic and social impacts that greater renewables deployment would have in Chile. The results show that, even under very conservative assumptions, renewables would bring more benefits to Chileans than the government's "business as usual" scenario. (The report is available in Spanish only.)

  • The Economic Benefits of Non-Conventional Renewable Energy in Chile - Issue Brief
    The key findings of the full study show that a future with greater renewables deployment would add $1.6 billion more to the Chilean economy and 7,769 more jobs than a baseline scenario over the next 15 years.
  • PWC's Presentation Announcing the Key Findings about the Economic Benefits of Non-Conventional Renewable Energy in Chile (in Spanish)
    A presentation by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), commissioned by NRDC and the Chilean Renewable Energy Association (ACERA), which presents the key findings of the study assessing the economic benefits of increasing the penetration of non-conventional renewable energy in Chile.

Boosting Geothermal Energy in Chile

As an abundant, clean and local source of base load power, geothermal can help drive Chile's future growth. Yet despite its great potential, geothermal energy in Chile is advancing at a far slower pace than other non-conventional renewable energy options like wind and solar. An NRDC supported research project identified key hurdles the sector must overcome, requiring concrete action from both government and industry. NRDC and the Andean Geothermal Center of Excellence cohosted a seminar presenting the results of this research, where key stakeholders from the private, public, and academic sectors came together with representatives from indigenous communities and international experts.

  • Geothermal Energy: Unleashing the Earth's Power to Fuel Chile's Future (PDF)
    To overcome lingering barriers to geothermal development, Chile will need to take concrete action to attract investment and decrease risk, reduce regulatory ambiguities, and address institutional constraints.
  • Bloomberg New Energy Finance – International lessons learned for geothermal development in Chile (in Spanish)
    A presentation by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) presented at the request of NRDC at the seminar "The Future of Geothermal in Chile: Barriers and Proposals for Development".

Assessing the Levelised Cost of Energy

Chile's abundant renewable energy resources and untapped energy efficiency potential hold the promise of a cleaner and brighter energy future. An analysis of the "levelized cost," or realcost, of energy in Chile demonstrates that Chile's traditional energy choices –- dirty coal and large hydro -- are not necessarily the most secure or affordable options for the future.

The Levelized Cost of Energy and the Future of Non-Conventional Renewable Energy in Chile: Disproving Common Myths (in Spanish) 
An analysis using data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) to disprove common myths about the true cost of non-conventional renewable energy in Chile.

Fact Sheet: Chile's Clean Energy Future
Biomass, biogas, geothermal, small hydro, and wind are affordable energy choices now, and solar is not far behind.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance – Chile Levelised Cost of Energy presented to NRDC
A presentation by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), commissioned by NRDC and using Chilean data provided by Valgesta Energía (Valgesta), which evaluates the "levelised cost of energy" (LCOE) and then compares the costs of a wide range of power generation technologies in Chile on an "apples to apples" basis.

NRDC's Presentation to Congressional Commissions in May 2011 on the Levelized Cost of Energy in Chile (in Spanish)

Learn More

Breaking Down the Myths: The True Cost of Energy and the Future of Renewable Energy in Chile
A white paper summarizing NRDC's findings about demand growth and the true cost of energy in Chile.

Strengthening the Environmental Impact Evaluation System in Chile: Lessons from International Legislation (in Spanish)
A report recommending changes to Chile's environmental impact evaluation system based on international best practices.

Are Dams Necessary in Patagonia: An Analysis of Chile's Energy Future (in Spanish)