• In the event of Chile going in for 100% renewable energy across all sectors by 2050, a new study claims solar PV’s installed capacity should rise to 43.6 GW
  • Wind and solar PV will make up most of the renewable electricity as per the study
  • A 100% renewable energy powered economy will help Chile put an end to its energy imports, reduce the LCOE by about 25% and make it a zero GHG emission country
  • According to the authors, 100% scenario will also be technically feasible and more cost-efficient than the current system

A study published in the International Journal of Sustainable Energy Planning and Management sees solar PV accounting for 43.6 GW of total installed power capacity in Chile by the year 2050. This is based on a scenario that the Latin American country will have an energy system completely based on 100% renewable resources, which the authors claim would be technically feasible and more cost-efficient than the current system.

In such a scenario, the PV capacity across all sectors will increase from 1.1 GW in 2015 to 43.6 GW in 2050. Wind power, on the other hand, will grow from 800 MW in 2015 to 24.8 GW by 2050 – and these two technologies will mainly constitute all renewable electricity in the country.

This would bring down the country’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) by about 25%, stop imports of energy and have the energy system emit zero GHG emissions by the target year.

Written by researchers from the Austral University of Chile, University of Jaén in Spain and LUT University of Finland, the paper is titled Transition toward a fully renewable-based energy system in Chile by 2050 across power, heat, transport and desalianation sectors. The numbers for solar PV and wind in this study are much higher than what a December 2019 BloombergNEF and Acciona report expects, for both these technologies accounting for 20 GW of installed capacity by 2050. But  BloombegrNEF focuses on existing policies in place to make these assertions.   

The new study claims the the transition for Chilean energy system would need a high level of direct and indirect electrification across all sectors as the researchers expect its primary electricity demand to rise from 31 TWh to 231 TWh by the target year, representing about 78% of the total primary energy demand. The rest, they say, will come from renewable heat and bioenergy fuels.

The researchers argue that ambitious national policy targets need to be introduced to enable the country to transition towards a 100% renewable energy system. “We suggest that upcoming studies should consider modeling with higher spatial resolutions, from the energy demand point of view, in  order to get accurate insights into the complex energy system with the goal of finding the best policy scenarios that will allow Chile to become one of the first countries around the world with a fully sustainable energy system.”

An energy system mainly powered by fossil-fuels, Chile aims to have 70% of renewable energy share in its total mix by the year 2050 under its 2050 energy Roadmap. This level will mainly be met by solar and wind power and to some extent hydro power.      

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) till the end of 2018, Chile’s total renewable energy capacity was 10.9 GW, with hydroelectric adding 6.72 GW, solar PV 2.13 GW and wind energy 1.52 GW.