Potential role of geothermal in Chile highlighted in meeting with Energy Minister

Participants of geothermal stakeholder meeting with Chile's Minister for Energy, March 2018 (source: CEGA)
Alexander Richter 9 Mar 2018

With a change of government in Chile, representatives of Chile's geothermal community this week met with the country's Energy Minister, Andrés Rebolledo to highlight the great role geothermal energy can and should play in Chile's energy future.

The role of geothermal energy, local and clean energy, as a base supply to replace coal, dirty energy that requires exporting its raw material, was one of the critical points on the comments to the final report of the Geothermal Table that was presented by CEGA .

Earlier this week, a meeting was held between the Minister of Energy of Chile, Andrés Rebolledo, and members of the Geothermal Board, a technical entity supported by the World Bank that operated throughout 2017 and that He brought together the leading experts in this area. The work of the Mesa, which proposed to identify geothermal progress and challenges to analyze the systemic impact of its participation in the energy matrix, culminated in January 2018 with the delivery of a report that addresses the current state of the sector and how it could be implemented. generate a policy framework to project its growth.

Diego Morata, director of CEGA commented that “the Bureau did an excellent job in collecting data and taking agreements on the current state of the development of this energy, which has more than a century of development in the world, but only a few months of operations in Chile. However, there are still critical points that are not present to account for the reality of the energy sector. ” Regarding this last point, Morata explained that the data with which the projections of the energy matrix were constructed in the report of the Mesa is not considering the commitment recently signed by the country of the end of the coal-generating thermoelectric plants that do not have carbon capture and storage systems or other equivalent technologies.

The meeting, which took place in the Ministry of Energy, was attended by representatives of CEGA, the Geothermal Council, ACHEGEO, ACERA, Transmark Chile and EDC (Energy Development Corporation), to discuss some points included in the report of the closure of the Geothermal energy, and be able to adapt the technical work to the changing and dynamic energy scenario of our country.

“The models developed in the framework of the work of the Bureau, and collected in the final report, are analytically correct, but it is still proposed for 2050 almost 5 GW of coal in the matrix and about 4 GW of electricity generation through diesel. Public policies must be built to supply this figure for clean energy and that is where geothermal energy comes in. We are talking about about 9 GW of electricity generation (almost 20% of the projected capacity by 2047) based on fossil fuels. With the new agreements signed by Chile of not having more coal-fired power plants that do not have a particle capture system, the input data for the price of coal-based energy, projected to 2050, are inaccurate, since the technology and the experience required to produce clean coal is not considered, ” indicated the director of the Geothermal Center of Excellence of Los Andes (CEGA). It is necessary to take charge of the panorama shown by the models made by the Bureau. Although the input data may be correct, as well as the calculations made, in-depth analysis is necessary on what the projections show, in order to be able to establish public policies that guarantee energy security in the country.

In relation to geothermal energy, said Morata, the report presents two scenarios “one with forced geothermal energy – that is, with the support of benefits for its development – and another with unencumbered geothermal energy and in both cases the figures shown are not entirely correct Costs are presumed to 2047 based on the short experience we have in Chile today, assuming that there would be no technological advances in the next three decades in terms of the exploration and exploitation stages that allow costs to be reduced. On the other hand, the advantage of having geothermal resources distributed throughout the country was not parameterized, which would favor security in the generation of electricity and the development of industrial poles in several of our regions.

Change of government

Regarding the continuity of the work with the future government authorities, Diego Morata commented that Minister Rebolledo promised to transfer this information to the future Minister Susana Jiménez.

“It is very important to consider that within the electoral promises made by the president-elect, Sebastián Piñera, is the goal to 2040 of 100% of the matrix with clean energy. This is a bet that we strongly applaud, but that, from our place of geothermal promotion, we must be very attentive to how this promise is fulfilled “, concluded Diego Morata.

Source: CEGA