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Chile exploring low-temperature geothermal resources with help by CTF and World Bank

View over Santiago, Chile (source: flickr/ patrickcoe, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 28 Jan 2018

A recent report on the status of energy policy in Chile, IEA looks partly at policies related to geothermal energy for both electricity generation and also on lower-temperature resources for heating. With the support by CTF and the World Bank the country is exploring its opportunities.

A recent report by IEA looks at the energy policies in Chile, and provides some details on the electricity sector for geothermal, but also looks at the low-temperature geothermal resources and their possible utilisation in the country.

The report describes that “despite the significant geothermal potential, the use of low-temperature geothermal energy in Chile is limited because of the lack of knowledge, an immature market and an underdeveloped regulatory framework.

In 2016, the Ministry of Energy created a programme to promote the direct use of geothermal energy for heating applications. This programme, financed with public funds, the CTF and World Bank’s ESMAP, focuses on the following areas.

Analysis of regulation

Analysis of the existing laws and regulations has been conducted with a view to create an attractive regulatory framework for direct-use geothermal projects. Two guides for developers have been prepared on the procedures to obtain underwater and surface water rights.

Awareness and education

The programme to raise awareness on geothermal energy includes the following actions:

  • handbooks to facilitate the implementation of geothermal projects
  • seminars organised with the Universidad de Chile
  • a study on heat pumps in Chile conducted by the Ministry of Energy, as well as a best practice guide on the use of geothermal heat pumps
  • a directory of Chilean installers and companies associated with the installation of geothermal heat pumps
  • co-operation with GNS Science (New Zealand) and the government of New Zealand.

Potential

The Programme works with the National Service of Geology and Mining (SERNAGEOMIN) and the Universidad de Chile to collect, analyse and make available relevant technical information, such as geology, hydrogeology and geophysics, to help identify favourable locations to develop geothermal projects at the least cost. Furthermore, an “online explorer” of geothermal potential is being developed (see “Raising awareness” section below).

Source: IEA, “Energy Policies beyond IEA countries – Chile”, 2018 (pdf)