Chile Updates Contributions to Paris Climate Accord and Wants to be Carbon Neutral by 2050

On April 9th, 2020, Chile presented its updated and more ambitious NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. As president of the COP25 that took place in Madrid 2019, Chile takes on its role in mobilising higher ambition worldwide.

The Chilean NDCs advance the country's emission peak to 2025 and reduce the annual emissions to 95Mt CO2eq by 2030. The plan to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050 also includes phasing out ten of 28 coal power plants by 2024 and promoting renewable energy and electric vehicles. Reforestation with native trees and the reduction of deforestation emissions is also part of the Chilean NDCs. The "green" Hydrogen economy is supposed to contribute 21 percent to GHG mitigation.

Together with the Ministers for Environment and Science, Energy Minister Jobet explained how the transition of the energy sector can contribute in a way that does not only mitigate emissions but will eventually be cheaper than not to decarbonize. In consensus with the energy industry and representatives of the civil society, the Ministry intends to continue with its path to a coal phase-out and decarbonization, more renewables, less contamination, more electromobility and stable and affordable prices.

Both Germany and Chile strongly support the Paris Agreement. Chile is among the countries most vulnerable to the extreme consequences of climate change. Large parts of the country’s emissions stem from the energy sector. A way to reduce these emissions is to increase energy efficiency, phase-out fossil fuels and to integrate more renewables. Chile and Germany share the goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Despite the economically uncertain times, both countries underline that they are staying on track with their ambitious energy transformation plans.

Taking a step forward

Is in this context that, in 2014, the project Cerro Dominador started. This solar complex, with a cost nearing a billion dollars, has two stages: a 100MW photovoltaic plant, which came into operation in 2018, and the first concentrated solar power plant in South America, inaugurated in June 2021.

The photovoltaic complex has 392.000 mono-axis panels, covering an area of 300 hectares.

Thanks to its 10.600 mirrors, or heliostats, Cerro Dominador reflects solar radiation onto a thermal solar receiver atop a tower 250 metres high, melting salts up to 560°C. This molten salt is then circulated through an absorber, where steam is heated and then driven into a turbine. This project's capacity is rated at 110MW, enough to power over 380.000 houses, and will prevent the emission of roughly 640.000 tons of CO2 each year.

This technology avoids the intermittency problems of other non-conventional renewable energies since the solar thermal tower has a capacity of 17,5 hours. Being able to produce electricity 24 hours a day in a manageable way, that is, adapting to variations in demand depending on the time, makes this project a giant step forward in the country’s energy transformation.

Further Reads

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Carbon Neutrality and NDCs (Chilean Ministry of Energy)

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