Highlighting the potential and benefits of geothermal utilization in Chile

Myself behind a model of a geothermal power plant by EDC (source: LUN)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 7 Dec 2017

A recent workshop in Santiago/ Chile highlighted the great potential and benefits geothermal energy can bring to Chile, but also discussed the challenges faced by the sector for development.

Last week, I had the great pleasure to visit Chile as part of board meetings of the International Geothermal Assocition (IGA), followed by a field trip to the Cerro Pabellon geothermal power plant in the North of the country.

On my last day, I attended a conference organised by the Chilean Association of Renewable Energies (ACERA) that was looking at geothermal energy and its local economic impact and on long-term employment. The discussion focused on the opportunities and the differentiating factors from other renewables and what would be needed to push and support development.

I was proud to visit Chile, with the board of the International Geothermal Association, all experts in various fields of geothermal energy worldwide.

Chile was the place selected for the meeting, considering the strong renewable impulse that it has shown over the past few years, but mainly after the first geothermal plant in Chile and South America was put into operation in 2017.

As part of this ACERA initiated a workshop on geothermal energy, which was sponsored by the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), in addition to the sponsorship of the Geothermal Council and the International Geothermal Association (IGA) .

In my presentation, I highlighted  the current state of geothermal development in the world, as well as financing options for development.

I attended the event, as  President of the International Geothermal Association (IGA) talking about the current state of geothermal development in the world, financing options for development and highlighted the benefits of geothermal in Chile. It was great to meet people involved with the geothermal sector of Chile and see how they are working hard to achieve greater development of this technology in their country. Chile’s geothermal potential is tremendous and so far only has one plant in operation, but it also demonstrates a first step, which, added to the optimism of the geothermal sector, will undoubtedly be able to achieve new projects. This is also a fantastic opportunity for Chile to strengthen its diversification of the matrix with renewable energies.

The event also featured a great presentation by Kristin Vala Mattiasdottir, VP Geothermal Resource Park for HS Orka in Iceland, and President of the Geothermal Association of Iceland.. She is also a board member of IGA. In her presentation she described the various applications, businesses, and economic development developed around the geothermal power operations of her company, that include the infamous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, medical research and facilities, Methanol production and much more.

Finally, the Geothermal Council, represented by one of its advisors, Joshua Carvacho, closed the day by deepening the contribution of geothermal energy to the flexibility and safety of Chile’s electrical system.

Gonzalo Torres, President of the Geothermal Council and Country Head Chile of EDC, said after the event that “geothermal energy is not only a source of renewable energy, but autochthonous and of constant generation (24/7), increasing the safety and flexibility of the electric system. Chile must see geothermal energy as an opportunity, especially considering the 3,500 MW of potential it has. ”

To this, a context marked by a clear trend towards the decarbonization of the country is added, he says. “By 2050 more than 30 coal-fired power plants will have reached their useful life and geothermal could play a key role in delivering stable and clean energy to Chile,” adds Torres.

Carlos Finat, Executive Director of the Chilean Association of Renewable Energies (ACERA), organizer of the event, agrees with the renewable transition that our country is experiencing and adds that “Chile is a country that has a unique diversity of renewable technologies. We have sun, wind, bioenergy, rivers, coasts and tides, and, of course, geothermal energy. As we have advanced strongly in recent years in the development of sources such as solar and wind, we must continue with all the rest of our potential, such as geothermal. ”

“The commissioning of Cerro Pabellón was already a great step for Chile, the first geothermal MW for the country, and I am convinced that the work carried out at the geothermal table will be able to open up new opportunities for this technology,” added Finat.

There is no doubt that Geothermal Energy is a key Non-Conventional Renewable Energy (NCRE) for the country, especially on the road to decarbonization it is living. In this line, the closure of the geothermal table this year, led by the Ministry of Energy and financed by the World Bank -where the main entities involved in the industry also participated- will open new scenarios and opportunities for its development in Chile.

Source: PiensaGeotermia via statement by email from ACERA