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Geothermal could and should play more important role for Chile

Petrevén drilling rig on site of the Cerro Pabellón project, Chile (source: Petrevén)
Parker O'Halloran 29 Aug 2017

Fernando Allendes, President of the Chilean Association of Geothermal Energy, provides a brief over view of the geothermal potential for Chile and projects underway.

Excerpts from the Sustainable energy report from Fernando Allendes, President of the Chilean Association of Geothermal Energy, ACHEGEO AG:

Developing geothermal energy is not an easy job, but the benefits that many countries – fortunate enough to have this valuable natural resource – have made the right decision to develop these resources. Chile presents an attractive opportunity for growth in this energy arena and we should not miss out on this potential.

Recall that our country is located in the Andes Mountains, with the second largest volcanic chain on Earth, that includes hundreds of volcanoes and numerous geothermal zones. In fact, given its geographical and geological characteristics, Chile is in a privileged position to take on this challenge.

In March 2017 the Cerro Pabellón Project began operations, the first geothermal plant in Chile and South America, developed by Enel Green Power Chile (EGPC) and the Chilean state hydrocarbons company Empresa Nacional del Petróleo (ENAP), marking a very important milestone for Development and history of geothermal energy in our country.

Cerro Pabellón is located at 4,500 meters above sea level in the municipality of Ollagüe, Antofagasta Region, has a total installed capacity of 48MW, sufficient resources to illuminate, for example, a city the size of Calama (Population 150,000 in 2015).

Cerro Pabellón is not only the first geothermal installation in South America but also the first large-scale high-enthalpy plant built in the world at such a high altitude. Cerro Pabellón connected to the Sistema Interconectado del Norte Grande (SING) grid, demonstrating that geothermal energy can be viable in Chile, we still have a long way to go. There are currently 25 exploration concessions in force or with the exclusive right, 12 operating concessions granted and 13 applications for operating concessions waiting for the green light to materialize promptly.

Academic studies estimate that our territory would have a technical potential that could rise to 16,000 MW. On the other hand, different institutions estimate that by the year 2030 we could have 1750 MW of installed capacity, in a conservative scenario, and more than 5000 MW, in an optimistic forecast. At ACHEGEO, we think that a goal of about 2000 MW installed by the year 2030 would be a good contribution to our country. Consequently, it is in the hands of the State to generate public policies that allow the use of the heat of the land to improve the quality of life of Chileans, to light up schools, to heat houses, among innumerable uses.

Source: Fernando Allendes, President of the Chilean Association of Geothermal Energy, ACHEGEO AG