The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Chile's president announces plan to fight energy crunch with both renewables and fossil fuels

  • Print

SANTIAGO, Chile - President Michelle Bachelet announced Thursday she will tackle Chile's energy crunch by looking to the wind and sun as well as fossil fuels in a $650 million plan for meeting rising demand.

Among other things, she said solar panels will be installed on all public buildings over the next four years. The government will give Chile's state oil company more money to boost exploration and will build a liquefied natural gas terminal in the central-south region.

Bachelet unveiled an expansion to an LNG port in the mineral-rich north Wednesday, pointing to it as an example of clean energy that won't harm the environment or local communities. But imported gas is costly, and Chile is looking for domestic power sources.

"Chile has a tremendous opportunity to turn into a regional power if we take advantage of renewable sources," Bachelet said. "And I'm not just talking about water (hydroelectric plants), but also the potential for wind, solar, thermal, and we're going to give a push to initiatives of this type."

That could please environmentalists who have blocked coal-fired power plants and hydroelectric dams in Chile's courts. But some experts say alternative energy alone can't meet the growing needs of the economy, which is the world's leading producer of copper.

Studies say Chile must triple its current 18,000-megawatt capacity within 15 years to continue expanding its stable economy. It now depends on hydroelectric dams and imported fossil fuels for nearly all its power.

Bachelet approved dozens of coal-fired power plants and hydroelectric projects in her first term as president, in 2006-10, but she now opposes them.

Like most Chileans, she also opposes construction of the HidroAysen project, which would tame two of the world's wildest rivers and build power lines from hydroelectric plants in Patagonia to the grid that supplies the nation's capital.

Bachelet's new economic policies, including raising corporate taxes, have made some business leaders nervous amid a plunge in copper prices. But key industry executives reacted positively to Thursday's announcement.

"Dealing with our energy is one of the most relevant issues in order to encourage investment and growth in Chile," said Bernardo Larrain Matte, chairman of the Colbun energy group.

Joaquin Galindo, CEO of electricity generator, Endesa Chile, agreed with Bachelet that Chile must diversify its energy sources.

"Anything that means increasing supply is very positive," Galindo said.

___

Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google