Chile is generating so much solar energy, it has more than what it knows what to do with.
Whoever said countries can’t thrive on renewable energy sources hasn’t yet been informed that parts of the country of Chile gave away solar energy for 113 days this past year. And, according to a new report by Bloomberg, many more free days of solar is expected to come.
Undoubtedly, free solar energy is good news for residents, but analysts are concerned about how this will impact the market, as investors and owners of solar power plants are likely to lose money.
Reportedly, the country’s push for solar energy resulted in the development of 29 solar farms, and another 15 are planned for construction in the future. However, Chile has two power networks in play: a central grid and a northern grid – and neither are connected. Inhabitat summarizes that infrastructure in some areas of each grid is so poor, some locations simply cannot transmit as much electricity. As a result, some areas have too much energy, while others are under-served.
In areas in the northern part of the central grid, power surpluses have driven the price to zero. This year’s count is expected to surpass last year’s figures on numbers of free solar power days, which was 192. At the same time, underserved areas are dealing with higher-than-normal energy costs.
Rafael Mateo, chief executive officer of Acciona SA’s energy unit, is one businessman who invested $343 million in a 247-megawatt project in the region that will be one of Latin America’s largest. He told Bloomberg:
“Investors are losing money. Growth was disordered. You can’t have so many developers in the same place.”Without the necessary infrastructure, the long-term effects of the massive solar industry growth are likely to be damaging.
Carlos Finat, president of the country’s renewable association, known as Acera, explained:
“[President] Michelle Bachelet’s government has set the energy sector as a priority. But planning has been focused in the short term when it is necessary to have long term plans to solve these type of issues.”It’s heartening to hear that a country can procure more than enough energy from sustainable sources, but Chile’s infrastructure needs to be modified so that all residents may benefit from the influx of energy.
To remedy the present-day conundrum, the country is intending to construct an underway on a 3,000 kilometer (1,865 mile) transmission link to the two grids by 2017. Additionally, a 753-km (468 mile) line is also in development, and it is designed to dissolve congestion in the northern parts of the central grid, where residents are celebrating the low costs of solar.