Chile , Uruguay and Argentina

Chile sets NCRE milestone, minister discusses 40% target bill

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, October 27, 2022

For the first time ever in Chile over a 12-month period, solar and wind power generation – combined – outstripped production of electricity from coal.

The two renewable sources together accounted for 27.5% of generation in the 12 months through September, compared with 26.5% corresponding to the fossil fuel.

The headline statistics are outlined in a report published by local renewables chamber Acera, energy think tank Ember and sustainable development organization Chile Sustentable. 

Chilean generators are gradually retiring their fleet of coal-fired power stations, involving around 5GW of capacity. Renewables plant, transmission and energy storage outlay of around US$30bn is needed to fill the gap.

In related news, energy minister Diego Pardow discussed in the lower house’s energy and mining committee an existing bill that establishes a binding target of obtaining 40% of power from non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE) sources from 2030, up from the current target of 20% – which has already been achieved. An associated goal is ensuring that, for each time block, NCRE plants cover at least 30%. 

Pardow said a key objective was helping spur investment in renewable energy.

The draft legislation also raises the maximum installed capacity of residential distributed generation installations to 500kW from 300kW. These projects do not need an environmental license to advance.  

Presented first in November 2021 by the then administration, the bill also establishes an energy traceability system so that electricity consumers can see how their power was generated.  

Chile’s goal is achieving 80% of power from renewable sources by 2030 and having a 100% emission-free grid by 2050. The Acera-Ember-Chile Sustentable report calls for zero-emission power generation earlier, by 2035.

Elsewhere in the Southern Cone, Uruguay was obtaining 100% of its power from renewable sources on Thursday morning, local energy consultancy SEG Ingeniería said.

Wind accounted for 76%, hydroelectric 14%, biomass 8% and solar 3%, SEG said in a tweet, citing data from power market administrator Adme.

Uruguay aims to start expanding its power generation park earlier than originally planned, state electricity company UTE chair Silvia Emaldi said in July. Officials want to begin growing installed capacity from 2026, initially via construction of 100MW solar PV modules. 

Last year, of 15,953TWh generated, hydropower accounted for 33%, wind 31%, biomass 17%, fossil fuel-fired 15% and solar 4%, according to data in the government’s 2021 national energy report, known as BEN.

In neighboring Argentina, non-conventional renewables covered 15.6% of demand in September, the federal energy department said.

Over the first nine months of the year, the proportion averaged 13.5%. The country has an official goal of hitting 20% by 2025.  

Grid expansion is being driven by projects geared to supplying corporates through term market Mater, rather than by public supply auctions.

A limiting factor for deployment of utility-scale plants in some parts of the country is transmission congestion. 

Federal officials are reportedly planning to put out to tender 132kV power lines, using IDB financing announced earlier this year.  

Also from Argentina, renewables chamber Cader said it had signed an agreement with Buenos Aires city government. An objective is supporting the administration's drive to obtain power for the public sector from renewable sources.

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