Renewable hydro generation dropped nearly 30% in Chile in February 2021

Chile map

Chile’s renewable generation suffered a dip in February 2021, as non-conventional renewable generation fell 15.3% compared with January and generation from small hydroelectric plants (considered renewable) dropped 29.3%.

Renewable generation in the country had already fallen slightly in January from a peak of 1,858 GWh in December 2020, which was the highest monthly renewable energy production the country has ever seen, according to BNamericas. February 2021 production fell closer to the levels seen in September 2020, albeit still 16% higher than in the same month of 2020.

By far the largest contributors to the drop were wind and hydroelectric generation, which saw declines of 19.4% and 29.3%, respectively, when compared with January, according to data released by national energy commission CNE. However, solar and biomass generation also fell by 12.5% and 6.4%, respectively, with only geothermal generation rising, by 8.8% between the first and second months of the year.

In the same period, conventional generation (comprising thermal and large hydroelectric units) was down 6.4%.

It is not clear what factors affected small and large hydro generation in the country in February 2020.

In total, 53.2% of renewable generation in that month was solar, 28.3% wind, 9.5% biomass, 7.6% small hydroelectric and 1.4% geothermal.

As BNamericas reported previously, Chile’s spot market power prices have shown unusual volatility over the past few weeks amid a shortage of wind and hydroelectric generation.

According to CEN, there is 5,339 MW of renewable currently under construction in the country, the vast majority of which is expected to start operating this year. Some 58% of that upcoming capacity is solar and 37% wind. BNamericas did not list what percentage will come from hydropower.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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