Renewables In Chile Not All They Might Appear
By Paul Homewood
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?