CHILE SENATE DOES WHAT U.S. SENATE CAN’T
The U.S. Senate, after a year-long struggle, fell one vote shy of pushing through a national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) which would have required U.S. utilities to obtain 15% of their energy from renewable sources or efficiency measures by 2020.
To the credit of President Bachelet’s government, Chile’s Senate passed such a bill on January 23. Chile’s goals are modest but it clearly sees the wisdom of setting a national standard and schedule of consumption on which producers can depend as they risk their investments in New Energy.
It would be pure speculation to observe that the announcement of new wind energy projects to be built by huge multinational mining interests (See CHILE TO BUILD WIND) could have had something to do with the government’s enthusiasm for New Energy. It is not speculation to observe that the wind build was spurred by newly uncertain supplies of energy from traditional sources: Once dependable Argentinean natural gas supplies have been cut back as that nation struggles with its own energy shortages; Once dependable hydro power has been failing in the face of droughts.
Chile's northern mountainous region has many high potential wind farm sites. (click to enlarge)
Chile Senate OKs Bill To Spur Minimum Renewable Energy Use
Patricia San Juan, January 24, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires via Nasdaq)
Chile's Senate approved a bill requiring its utilities to obtain a percent of their power from renewable sources by a date certain.
Chile also has good solar resources. (click to enlarge)
- The Chilean plan sets a 5% goal for 2014 and a 10% goal for 2024.
- The plan must be approved by Chile’s lower house in March.
The new law requires utilities to put power from renewable sources onto one of Chile’s 2 main grids, the SIC in the central heartland and the SING in the desert mining hub.
- The government says it expects the RES to spur development and bring New Energy prices into parity with prices for thermal (fossil fuel) plant power and hydro power.
- Chile is thought to have “ample” solar, wind and wave energy resources but gets only 2.4% of its electricity from New Energy sources. The global average is 4%.
Most importantly, Chile has a backbone transmission grid that runs the length of the country. (click to enlarge)
Marcelo Tokman, Minister, National Energy Commission: "We are conducting an analysis that is showing that it is possible to have sources of energy at the same cost as traditional sources but generated through renewable, non-conventional means…"