January 24 (Renewables Now) - Chile will have to add 1,387 MW of power generation capacity to satisfy the copper mining industry’s growing demand for electricity in the 2019-2030 period.
According to its latest power outlook report, the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) estimates the industry’s electricity consumption will increase to 33.1 TWh in 2030 from 23.6 TWh in 2019 at a CAGR of around 3.1%.
This increase will be led by concentration, which of all mineral processing activities is projected to account for 66% of the power consumption in 2030, growing at a CAGR of around 4.6%.
Copper mines in the region of Antofagasta are expected to remain the biggest power consumers, demanding an estimated 16.7 TWh in 2030, or over 30% more compared to what they needed in 2019.
Demand by mines in Atacama and Tarapaca will grow by 78% and 110%, respectively, followed by the region of Coquimbo, where power consumption is projected to rise by 46% by 2030.
The Chilean copper mining industry is located in the north and south-central part of the country and is served by the National Electricity System (SEN), the largest of three independent grid systems in Chile.
Last year, the SEN was strengthened by the commissioning of the 753-km Cardones-Polpaico transmission line, a key project for enabling smooth transport of renewables from the regions in the north to consumer points in the south.
The total installed capacity in the SEN reached 24,004 MW, of which 5,293 MW came from renewable sources, according to the November 2019 statistics published by the Chilean national energy commission.
Cochilco’s report highlights that SEN’s potential for higher incorporation of renewables, along with energy efficiency and the implementation of new technologies, can help the copper mining industry. With the diversified power mix, the industry can now expect improvements in energy security at progressively lower costs, which in turn will make the copper mining industry more competitive.