This article has been updated on January 8.
January 4 (Renewables Now) – Chile’s Energy Ministry and industry stakeholders have agreed on the programmed and gradual phase-out of coal-fired plants that do not have carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems, after holding nine round-table sessions over the course of six months.
Coal-sourced electricity represents 40% of Chile’s power mix and its replacement with cleaner energy sources required a careful analysis of how the withdrawal will impact the economy, labour and the efficiency of the country’s electricity system.
The Ministry’s sessions ended on January 3 after utilities, unions, the civil society, consumer associations and academics, among others, presented their studies on decarbonisation and its effects, as well as analysis of other countries’ experiences, such as Germany and the UK.
With conclusions from the meetings in hand, the Energy Ministry will agree with utilities on the timetable and the conditions necessary to gradually phase-out coal-fired plants without CCS or equivalent technologies.
Chile’s Energy Minister Susana Jimenez has announced that the timetable for the country’s withdrawal from coal and conversion of coal-fired plants will be published between March and April this year. Speaking with a local news channel last week, Jimenez said that the commitments signed with utilities would turn into binding agreements to phase-out or convert coal-fired plants.
In January 2018, the Chilean government signed an agreement with utilities AES Gener, Colbun, Enel and Engie whereby the companies committed to scrapping all coal projects without CCS systems from then on. The Energy Ministry agreed at the time to invite all relevant institutions to participate in a working group to analyse the electricity system as a whole and each coal-fired plant in order to establish a timetable and conditions for the phase-out.