Energy profile: Chile
Fuel mix (fossil fuels vs renewables)
In 2019 Chile derived roughly half of its total energy supply from oil and natural gas, with coal (20%), biofuels (17%), hydro power (5%), and small amounts of wind and solar (3%) accounting for the remainder. Fossil fuels provided slightly more than half of Chile's installed electrical capacity and power generation; additional electricity was generated by hydro (27%), solar (8%), wind (6%) and other renewables including biomass and geothermal energy(3%).
Greenhouse gas emissions targets
As of 2018, Chlle's per capita CO2 emissions from fuel combustion (4.6 tons annually) were among the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean, though still relatively small by global standards. Chile's NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) target for 2030 calls for a 30% reduction in GHG emissions.
Government energy agencies & other key players
National energy agencies
Chile's Ministerio de Energía is the government ministry in charge of energy policy.
SMA (Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente) is Chile's environmental authority, responsible for granting licenses for new power generation projects.
State-owned CNE (Comisión Nacional de Energía) is the agency charged with regulating production, generation, transport, and distribution of energy in Chile.
Superintendencia de Electricidad y Combustibles the government regulator for Chile's oil, natural gas, and biofuels sector.
State-owned CNE (Comisión Nacional de Energía) is Chile's largest electric utility company.
National oil company
ENAP (Empresa Nacional del Petróleo) is Chile's national oil company, responsible for exploration and production of hydrocarbons and geothermal energy.
Leading energy companies
Major private energy companies operating in Chile include Enel, Colbún, Engie, and AES Gener.
Chile had roughly 24.4 GW of installed capacity as of 2019.
Chile produced just over 77 TWh of electricity in 2019.
Chile consumed 76 TWh of electricity in 2018, ranking 38th in the world.
Coal in Chile
Chile was Latin America's third largest consumer of coal in 2019, after Brazil and Mexico. Consumption totaled 13.4 million tonnes in 2019. Coal consumption is expected to decrease as a result of Chile's 2019 national decarbonization plan. The plan called for the shutdown of eight coal-fired units by 2024 - including those at Tocopilla power station, Patache power station, Bocamina power station, and Ventanas power station - with all of the country's remaining coal-fired units to be decommissioned by 2040.
Imports & source countries
Oil & Natural Gas in Chile
Chile has large, undeveloped reserves of shale gas. However, the country is not a significant producer of fossil fuels and must import most of its oil and natural gas. Chile produced only 22,000 barrels per day of petroleum products in 2020, and 1.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2018.
In 2018 Chile consumed 363,000 barrels per day of petroleum products and 5.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
Imports & source countries
Chile imported just over 2 billion tonnes of natural gas and nearly 11 billion tonnes of oil in 2019. Chile imports natural gas by pipeline from neighboring Argentina, and by sea from several other countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, Algeria, Qatar, Equatorial Guinea, the United States, and Mexico. The country's two main LNG import terminals are the Quintero LNG Terminal and the Mejillones LNG Terminal.
Four international pipelines - the Atacama Pipeline, the Nor Andino Pipeline, the GasAndes Pipeline, and the Gasoducto del Pacífico - cross the Andes between Chile and Argentina, allowing Chile to import Argentine natural gas. However, supplies are intermittent, and Argentina's export capacity was completely shut down for more than a decade before flow resumed in 2018.
Renewable Energy in Chile
In 2019, Chile announced its intention to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Between 2014 and 2020, the country increased the renewables component of its energy mix from 3% to 25%, with an emphasis on solar and wind power. Companies such as Enel and Engie have shifted their Chilean investments away from coal power to alternate sources such as solar and wind. Chile has some of the highest levels of solar radiation on earth, making it a prime candidate for photovoltaic energy development. Chile is also a leading producer of lithium, a key element in electric vehicle batteries; the country held an estimated 55.5% of global lithium reserves as of 2019.
Iron & Steel in Chile
Dating to 1950, Chile's CAP Acero steel plant is one of South America's largest and longest established steelmakers, based on the older and more energy-intensive blast furnace/basic oxygen furnace technology. The plant uses iron ore from mines in northern Chile, which are concentrated in the three northern regions of Atacama, Antofagasta, and Coquimbo.
Residents of Chile's five so-called 'sacrifice zones' - the communities of Mejillones, Tocopilla, Ventanas, Coronel, and Huasco, where coal-fired power plants and other polluting industries are heavily concentrated -- are vulnerable to a variety of associated health and safety impacts, including higher risk of respiratory disease and cancer. Development of Chile's vast lithium reserves is already having negative impacts on the fragile Atacama desert ecosystems and indigenous communities of northern Chile, including severe depletion of local water resources.
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