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Renewables In Chile Not All They Might Appear

June 8, 2016

By Paul Homewood 


h/t Stewgreen




According to Recharge, who seem to be no more than a propaganda sheet for the renewables industry:


Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said that renewables – solar, wind and geothermal technologies – will account for 25% of the country’s installed capacity by 2018.


Sounds impressive? Not really.

For a start, note those oft misused, and misleading, words installed capacity.


In reality, we can see just how much power Chile got from renewables in 2015, from the BP Energy Review.





According to EcoNews, who have carried the ReCharge story, Bachelet also said “Today more that 4.1GW of new generation plants and more than 2,700km of transmission lines are under construction.”

Even at a generous capacity utilisation of 20%, this extra capacity will only supply about 7 TWh, less than 10% of Chile’s power.



And. as ever, no mention is made of overall energy consumption, as opposed to just power. When we look at that, solar and wind are contributing a risible 2%.




It would be arrogant to dismiss the fact that Chile is attempting to boost solar power capacity. However, there is a very good reason for this, and it has nothing to do with climate change, as energy experts, Mondaq, explain:


Although rich in other natural resources, Chile has no gas, oil or coal and relies heavily on imports for its energy supply. Domestic resources are limited to large hydropower, which has to date played an important role. However, after a few years of droughts, and unreliable gas imports since 2004, energy supply and energy security are two of the key issues facing the country.

Scarcity of energy supply is compounded by the fact that the Chilean economy is buoyant, growing at an average rate of more than five per cent between 1987 and 2015. This is set to continue, with GDP growth predicted to increase at a rate of approximately 4.5 per cent until 2023. Northern Chile is growing even faster due to the expansion of its mining industry. Chile’s energy requirement is forecast to grow in parallel at a rate of six to seven per cent until 2020.

These factors combined mean that the electricity price in Chile has traditionally been high in comparison to many other countries in the region. Recently, power traded on the spot market at US$80.9/MWh. Such high power prices mean that renewables projects can be competitive despite relatively low government support and without a price guarantee.



I googled to check the exact speech from the President. Strangely, every reference I could find was linked back to ReCharge! There appears to be a dense web of Eco/Renewable sites scattered around, which all seem to feed off of each other. Makes you wonder who funds them?

  1. sean2829 permalink
    June 9, 2016 1:27 am

    I suspect when the widened Panama Canal opens later this month it may reduce transport costs for LNG from eastern US sources. You’d also think that the Atacama desert at 2 miles high and almost no rainfall would be an ideal location for solar. And with all the copper they mine there, running power lines should not be a problem either.

  2. June 9, 2016 3:52 am

    Whoa stop Paul : NOT 25% , 100% ! Chile is 100% renewables is a story in Green echo chamber Reddit.
    It’s a claim being made as a result of this misleading Bloomberg headline Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free

    My green PhD told me that Reddit is the most reliable source of news cos the headlines you see are the ones upvoted most by the members so you are getting the BEST news not just what Rupert Murdoch wants you to see.
    And he showed me on his home screen
    with an impressive 6,117 points Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free (Thread 1 (repeated in at least 10 other threads)

    – What is apparent is that Reddit users vote on the sentiment, and most don’t actually read the source story, all the comments are about how amazing this feat, you have to look deep to find a sensible comment buried in about 200 wacky ones

    Misleading headlines to grab attention. The obvious problem is the lack of transmission infrastructure to deliver all of this power. But sensational media finds that free electricity from solar farms is much better sounding.
    I will probably hear about this from all of my friends who won’t care to read the whole topic and don’t understand how the electrical power market works anyway. This is how false myths are born.

    – It was interesting to find how big green myths are started.
    My green friend was also unaware that skeptics were driven away from Reddit when the editor of the Science section banned all ‘denier comments’

    Now this is where the 25% claim for 2017 comes in. 100% is of course to good to be true if If the Presidents aim is 25%.
    And that is clear when you get past the Bloomberg article’s headline, yes the market price for local solar energy did drop to zero, cos the LOCAL supply was already saturated, and the Chilean grid is so badly connected that excess could not be passed onto other regions.
    That is not a sexy narrative for people to pass on.

  3. June 9, 2016 3:59 am

    BTW that 25% plan is the old trick of pretending it’s solar/wind when in fact countries like Chile have a very high hydro base.
    In fact in the recent past it was at 34 %

    Wiki – Total installed nominal capacity in April 2010 was 15.94 GW.[1] Of the installed capacity, 64.9% is thermal,[1] 34% hydroelectric[1] and nearly 1% wind power,[1]

    The is also PR about a new metro being 42% renewable powered, but if a region has high hydro power then of course the energy in that particular region is a higher percentage renewable that for the whole country.

    • June 9, 2016 4:11 am

      just checked that link and it seems like our green reporter friends have pulled the “renewables=sola/wind only” trick again to ignore the hydro “President Michelle Bachelet recently announced the country’s mass transit system will soon be almost entirely powered by wind and solar energy, ”
      Green dreamers don’t need the real world, their fantasyworld is so much better.

      • June 10, 2016 1:19 pm

        I need to backtrack on that 42% link. I didn’t have a fast enough connection to read the whole page properly. It’s still rubbish story and @It doesn’t add up has a better deconstruction below.

  4. NeilC permalink
    June 9, 2016 8:10 am

    “Makes you wonder who funds them?”

    The poor taxpayer as always – via, our national government funding to green lobbyists (WWF, FoE etc) and the EU and any organisation starting with UN.

    But I guess your question was rhetoric.

  5. dennisambler permalink
    June 9, 2016 9:25 am

    Check out their “thought leaders” page:

    They seem to be part of Norwegian media group NHST:

    “Recharge delivers sector-specific newsletters targeting the wind and solar sectors. These are targeted paid-for daily news bulletins or weekly news round-ups delivered to desktop or smartphone. Banners at top and bottom offer excellent opportunities for more tailored and personal communication with a direct link to your website.”

    Download the media pack for advertisers:

    • June 10, 2016 1:21 pm

      So it’s an advert ! ..that’s what paid news is

  6. Bloke down the pub permalink
    June 9, 2016 9:48 am

    Meanwhile, when remote places in the developing world need reliable energy.

  7. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 9, 2016 1:19 pm

    I did find this:

    60% of the power for the Santiago metro is supposed to come from solar and wind by 2018 – 42% from 111MW of solar PV in the Atacama desert to be built by French company Total Sun Power, and Brazilian outfit Latinamerican Power to construct a wind farm in San Juan de Aceituno for the other 18% (capacity not specified) – an overall investment of $500m.

    In reality of course, the two projects are simply going to be connected to the grid.

    • June 10, 2016 1:24 pm

      says they will work for only 15 years ..whys that ?

  8. David Richardson permalink
    June 9, 2016 3:33 pm

    Keeping your eye on the pea becomes ever more difficult.

  9. June 10, 2016 1:18 pm

    I am perplexed Paul went for the fake 25% angle in the sTory I supplied
    rather than the fake 100% angle, cos a lot of greens are believing that fake 100% ..thing from Reddit

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