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Government of Chile receptive to proposals set forward by national geothermal industry

Cerro Pabellon geothermal power plant, Chile (source: ThinkGeoEnergy)
Alexander Richter 30 Jul 2018

With proposals set forth by a wide-ranging collaboration on the future for geothermal energy development in Chile, the country's government seems to at least be receptive to some of the suggestions put forward. How much that means will have to be seen.

Last week, we reported on the study presented by the Geothermal Table, a commission by geothermal concession holders, utilities, trade associations like the Geothermal Council, ACHEGEO and ACERA, the academy, public service, and professional bodies. The commission also received financial support from the World Bank.

Chile has great geothermal potential, according to a study conducted by the Ministry of Energy’s Geothermal Commission. The report highlights that the exploration works indicate that the nation’s capacity stands between 1,300 MW and 3,800 MW. For its part, investment need to develop those resources is estimated at $9-$25 billion.

72 percent of its geothermal potential for electricity is concentrated in regions such as Arica, Parinacota, Tarapacá, and Antofagasta. Meanwhile, 28 percent is distributed throughout the Metropolitan and Los Lagos regions. Most noteworthy, Chile holds 25 percent of the world’s active volcanoes, according to a study quoted by El Portal Minero.

Industry players requested the Energy Ministry to award 13 logging concessions for geothermal power. The organism assured they are in the inquiry process with indigenous communities. However, 12 of said concessions have already been awarded, including one associated to the Cerro Pabellón plant, commissioned last year.

Energy Minister Susana Jimenez stressed the Geothermal Commission’s work and its willingness to collaborate with all parties. Jimenez estimates that a “public-private partnership is the best path to design public policies that generate sustainable development and transversal progress.”

The minister indicated that Chile has great geothermal potential and stressed that the state’s energy policy must be to utilize all available renewables in the country. In detail, the nation has the capacity to develop solar, wind, geothermal, and hydric power. “Undoubtedly, we are very well positioned to face the challenges of a cleaner, more renewable, sustainable, and cheaper energy matrix,” he stated.

The analysis presented by the Geothermal Commission concluded that for the different configurations of the electricity matrix it is possible to have an economic operation that complies with the system’s security criteria.

The members of the Committee presented a series of proposals aimed at developing geothermal power. Said proposals include modernizing capacity payment; incorporating measures to integrate greater flexibility and security in the system; seeking international cooperation funds to maintain Geothermal Exploration Risk Mitigation; creating an expert committee to decarbonize the energy matrix, preparing a development plan for the direct applications of geothermal power; modifying Act 19,657 on geothermal concessions, among other.

The minister stated that the proposals illustrate a diversity of views on the matter. She also mentioned that each proposal helped prepare the 2018-2022 Energy Route Map. “Our competence as a State is making the best decisions to defend the public good and the full development of our potential.”

Source: Energia16