Is Chile’s Plan for a Fully Renewable Grid too Ambitious?

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Chilean presidential candidates, including former President Sebastián Piñera, have pledged to expand the percentage of renewable energy in the country’s matrix. // File Photo: Piñera Campaign.

Chilean presidential candidate and former President Sebastián Piñera has pledged to enact a plan that will move Chile to a fully renewable electricity grid by 2040, expanding upon major investments the country has already made in renewable energy. Piñera’s opponents for the presidency, Beatriz Sánchez and Alejandro Guillier, have also voiced support for increasing renewable energy. Where is Chile’s renewables sector headed? Is Piñera’s plan—and the time span in which he hopes to achieve it—realistic and the best way to address the country’s energy needs? What steps would Chile need to take to create a fully renewable electricity grid?

Cristián Vallejo, partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP: “Conventional and nonconventional renewables are on the path to becoming the main or sole component of the country’s energy matrix by 2050. Chile’s successful turn to renewables is mostly the result of the incentives and policies enacted by the current and prior administrations. There is a general consensus on energy matters by the country’s political factions, particularly as to the role that renewables must have. This consensus is reflected in the 2050 Energy Policy enacted in 2015. Pursuant to the policy, ‘at least’ 70 percent of the country’s energy matrix is expected to come from renewables by 2050. All presidential candidates agree that the policy must be the framework for Chile’s energy development. So, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, it is expected that development of renewables in Chile will continue its current path toward becoming the main source of the country’s energy matrix, as contemplated by the policy. Piñera’s plan is very ambitious. The goals set forth in the policy with respect to the participation of renewables in the country’s energy matrix, namely…”

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