Friday, June 17, 2016

Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free

Spot prices reached zero in parts of the country on 113 days through April, a number that’s on track to beat last year’s total of 192 days, according to Chile’s central grid operator. While that may be good for consumers, it’s bad news for companies that own power plants struggling to generate revenue and developers seeking financing for new facilities.
Chile’s increasing energy demand, pushed by booming mining production and economic growth, has helped spur development of 29 solar farms supplying the central grid, with another 15 planned. 
“Investors are losing money,” said Rafael Mateo, chief executive officer of Acciona SA’s energy unit, which is investing $343 million in a 247-megawatt project in the region that will be one of Latin America’s largest. 

A key issue is that Chile has two main power networks, the central grid and the northern grid, which aren’t connected to each other. There are also areas within the grids that lack adequate transmission capacity. That means one region can have too much power, driving down prices because the surplus can’t be delivered to other parts of the country
The government is working to address this issue, with plans to build a 3,000-kilometer (1,865-mile) transmission line to link the the two grids by 2017. It’s also developing a 753-kilometer line to address congestion on the northern parts of the central grid, the region
Solar capacity on Chile’s central power grid, known as SIC, has more than quadrupled to 770 megawatts since 2013....The country is expected to install almost 1.4 gigawatts of solar power this year, up from 371 megawatts in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The only solar plant in Chile feeds the mega mines with electricity and is considered one of the most efficient fields in the world.
by Vanessa Dezem and Javiera Quiroga
Bloomberg News
June 2, 2016

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