Chile is well on its way to making good on its promise at the 2009 Copenhagen United Nations Summit on climate change to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 percent. The Chilean government has pledged to make the reduction by 2020 and will need to reduce its carbon output by 25-35 million tons.
That number is within reach, though, for a country that has the highest solar energy potential in the world. That potential is so large, in fact, that when it is combined with the wave and tidal energy potential from Chile’s long coast, the country has the largest potential energy resource on the planet — an energy resource that uses no fossil fuels and emits no carbon.
As part of its march toward that 20 percent reduction goal, the Andean nation has installed 181 megawatts of nonconventional renewable energy in the first six months of 2013 — nearly 10 percent more than it did in all of 2012. That growth at this early stage is most heavily made up of wind projects. That is just a drop in the bucket, though, as an additional 230 megawatts are expected to be brought onto the power grid before the year is out.
Energy generation is only half of the carbon-reduction puzzle, but the Chilean government’s efforts on the efficiency front are equally as admirable. Joining an existing efficiency mandate that allows consumers to see an easy breakdown of the energy consumption of their household appliances is a new program from the Housing and Urban Development Ministry to create an energy use breakdown for homes. The new program establishes a government seal of energy efficiency, allowing new homeowners to choose wisely and responsibly.
Efforts to increase the country’s efficiency can be found everywhere across Andean nation, even as far south as the city of Punta Arenas at the edge of Patagonia. For instance, the local university, the Universidad de Magallanes, recently received a national award for its program that focuses on developing better ways to insulate homes and schools in the region, as well as improve the efficiency of th