Bloomberg on renewable Energy and Chile’s mining sector – an opportunity for geothermal?
Massive renewable energy projects are powering Chile's mining companies, predominantly solar and wind power installations, but also one geothermal power plant at Cerro Pabellon. There are opportunities for more geothermal energy in the mix.
With an abundance of minerals to be found in the northern part of Chile in the Atacama Desert, the process to extract minerals from the ground is not only cumbersome, but also incredibly energy intensive.
An article by Bloomberg discusses how the country, due to its lack of national fossil fuel resources, powers this energy hungry and important element of its economy.
With a nearly double price for electricity, it is expensive to buy electricity for businesses. In 2013, the country passed a law requiring about 20 percent of its energy to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.
Wind and Solar have played a major role in this regard, last but not least due to ideal conditions in the North with lots of wind and sunshine. Mines today represent about one third of the country’s overall power consumption. Electricity accounts for about 11 percent of total mining costs. With falling costs for wind and solar technology, many mining companies have invested in their own power projects utilising solar power and wind projects. So far it has though been more common for mining firms signing power purchase agreements with third party renewable energy companies.
In the North of Chile, not that far off from the massive mining activities there are also geothermal energy resources. In the Atacama Desert, Enel Green Power is operating its Cerro Pabellon geothermal power plant, with expansion plans already under way.
As intermittent solar and wind power are, geothermal provides valuable baseload power and could be therefore an important part of the energy mix in this region for the mining sector, while also provide opportunities for transmission beyond.
Source: Bloomberg Business