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Feature: Chile may miss 20/20 renewable energy target

By the Potencia correspondent

12 April 2013 – The Chilean government has set an ambitious target to be achieved by 2020. The aim is to have 20 per cent of the country’s electricity production d from renewable sources. However, there are growing concerns that this target, known as the 20/20 plan, is likely to run into difficulty.

According to Sergio del Campo, the government’s deputy secretary of Energy, a key constraint is that the load centres, which are primarily urban areas, are located far from where the renewable energy plants, such as wind farms or solar plants, are expected to be built.

This distance makes it extremely challenging to transmit the power via the central system, so del Campo believes that scepticism is growing over the achievability of the 20/20 targets.

The 20/20 goals also face economic setbacks that further complicate matter. In light of these the Mining Commission is still studying the plan’s viability.

In a report in Energias Renovables, to meet the 20/20 target an additional 4600 MW would have be added over the next seven years. This would also require a higher-capacity transmission system.

In a speech to the members of Parliament, del Campo voiced his concern over the intermittent nature of wind and solar ” the renewable energies anticipated to lead the low-carbon, sustainability drive in Chile.

One feasible option would be to reduce the 20/20 target, for example, cutting renewable energy’s share from 20 per cent to 15 per cent by 2020.

However, there are other who believe Chile’s planned 20/20 target can remain on track as long as the government takes this task seriously and adopts effective support measures.

One unsurprising advocate is the Chilean Renewable Energy Association (ACERA) , which recently presented a series of proposals to the Mining Commission.

ACERA believes that non-conventional renewable energy projects qualify for the bidding process for distributors that will be held in the coming weeks.

According to ACERA’s executive manager Carlos Finat, the inclusion of non-conventional renewables projects in the bids will demonstrate in practical terms the differences between these and conventional power generators.

Clearly ACERA disagrees with the del Campo’s pessimistic forecast.

ACERA officials believe that the 20/20 aim is technically viable and this plan will potentially have an important economic impact on the South American country, reports Suelo Solar.

Focusing on non-conventional renewable sources will bring economic profitability, according to ACERA. This is possible because their operating and marginal costs are lower than the costs derived from of conventional, fossil fuel-based energy sources.

A study by the University of Chile’s Energy Center showed that the connection of non-conventional renewable sources to the Central Interconnected System (SIC) in 2011 brought a reduction in the operating costs; estimated to be $186m. Besides the marginal cost was reduced 7 per cent.

The study also found that up to 500,000 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) was avoided.

Finat added that if the 20/20 aim is reached the non conventional renewable sources will be absorbing approximately half the growth of Chile’s energy demand. Thus for every dollar per MWh down the price of energy, consumers will be saving almost $33m annually

La Tercera reports that during 2012 the contribution of renewable energy to Chile’s electricity production increased by 23 per cent, producing 3158 GWh or 4.82 per cent of overall production).

In 2011, it was only 3.2 per cent reports the Centro de Energàƒ­as Renovables (CER).

à‚ According to Maria Paz de la Cruz, the CER’s executive manager, biomass is the main contributor to renewable energy sources (50 per cent), followed by hydro (38 per cent), wind (12 per cent) and solar (0.02 per cent).

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