Chile starts the year with major renewable energy push

The country saw its solar capacity expand rapidly in the first month of 2014 thanks to activation of newest project in the Atacama.

January was a big month for renewable energy efforts in Chile. The country brought online one of the largest solar plants in Latin America boosting its sustainable energy figures way beyond the achievements of previous years.

The first month of the new year saw 186.3 megawatts of renewable energy installations come online, pushing the country’s total renewable capacity to 1,298.3 megawatts. In January alone Chile produced 102.6 megawatts, an increase of 95.9 megawatts from the month before. This impressive growth accounts for 76 percent of all the capacity brought online during 2012.

Much of this recent explosion of renewable power is thanks to the progress of the 100 megawatts Amanecer Solar project operated by the major North American sustainable energy firm SunEdison. The photovoltaic plant is the largest of its kind in Latin America and is a major reason behind the jump in power coming from solar energy in Chile — from 0.2 percent to 1.2% in January, according to the country’s  Center for Renewable Energy (CER).

With the unmatched solar capacity of the arid Atacama Desert, and the tidal energy capacity of its seemingly endless coastline, Chile has the natural resources to make green energy a reality for its citizens. Given these great opportunities for green energy, the Chilean government is pushing for big programs to support and promote the innovative industry.

Plans were announced last month that Chile will welcome a new concentrated solar power (CSP)  which will generate 110 megawatts of clean power for the Antofagasta Region in Northern Chile. The project, funded by the Chilean government and the European Union, will be the largest of its kind in Latin America.

All of this will go towards bringing Chile closer to its goal of more than doubling its renewable energy goals by 2025. The government announced last November that it will ask companies to source 20 percent of its energy intake from renewables such as solar, wind, or tidal power.