With over 48,816 miles (78,563 km) of windswept coastline and vast deserts in the country’s north, Chile has the largest potential energy reserves in the world, according to U.S. environmentalist and energy expert, Patrick McCully.
The executive director of Black Rock Solar (BRS) – an NGO which promotes the use of photovoltaic solar energy systems – said that Chile’s potential for wind and solar power is still largely untapped.
“Northern Chile holds the largest energy source in the world, which is solar power, but until now the installed capacity is ridiculous,” he told Spanish news agency, Efe. “Chile is lucky not to have petrol and coal, serious polluters, but unfortunately neither has it known how to use the green energy it has on its own soil.”
For McCully – who was in the Andean nation to participate in the seminar “Chile, in the right direction. The energy matrix that the country needs” – the time is ripe to invest in a solar future.
“Now the cost of solar energy has fallen rapidly throughout the world and it is without doubt one of the cleanest forms of energy.”
Already, alternative energy companies are moving into the area, with the U.S.-based AES Gener SA in the process of obtaining a permit from the Chilean government to build a US$572 million solar complex in Atacama, and Demersol Chile about to build a US$32 million complex.
But the country’s potential is not confined to its arid north – McCully is adamant that there is enormous potential for wind energy as well, due to the strong winds that sweep much of the country’s extensive coastline, running from its northernmost tip above the Tropic of Capricorn to the southernmost point in the Magellan Strait of Patagonia.
McCully’s comments reflect the opinion of fellow U.S. scientist Stanford Ovshinsky, who declared after visiting the Atacama, “you have more wealth here than in the Saudi Arabian desert.“
This post is also available in Spanish