Chile to create regional renewable energy center

The government of Chile plans to create a renewable energy center to serve as a clearinghouse and sponsor of non-conventional renewable energy sources for Chile and for South America.

Energy Minister Marcelo Tokman outlined the proposed Centro de Energias Renovables, saying President Michelle Bachelet plans to extend the center to include to the union of South American nations, Union de Naciones Suramericanas, during her acting presidency of the organization.

�The president is determined to turn Chile into a pioneering country in the region in the advantage of renewable energies,� Tokman said.

Tokman said Chile and the region have a great potential for renewable resources, citing examples including hydropower and tidal energy resources. He said it is necessary to identify the most suitable technologies for the South American region.

The minister said the center would help develop policies and programs to promote innovation and investigation of renewable technologies. It also is to help disseminate technological developments from other parts of the world.

In March, Bachelet signed a new energy law, requiring electric utilities to invest in, and supply up to 10 percent of their electricity from, non-conventional energy sources, including small hydro and ocean energy. (HNN 3/21/08)

The legislation requires that non-conventional energy sources account for at least 10 percent of the energy supplied by Chile’s electric utilities by 2024. Non-conventional sources include hydro projects up to 40 MW, as well as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass sources. A Senate amendment to the bill added ocean energy including tidal, wave, and ocean thermal sources.

Additionally, the government has budgeted multiple activities in the sector, including subsidies and preferential credits for investment, emphasis on hydropower potential at existing irrigation works, and manuals to evaluate projects and to obtain clean development financing.

Chile, which imports nearly all of the fuel it consumes, has been grappling with a serious energy shortage amid cuts in natural gas from sole supplier Argentina and lower hydroelectric reservoir levels caused by scant rainfall.

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