Chile’s energy ministry on Tuesday said that it is launching a dialogue with relevant stakeholders to prepare a new decarbonisation plan in an effort to bring forward the closure of all coal-fired power plants in the country by ten years to 2030.
The plan will be the product of dialogue sessions with the civil society, academia and industry, with the work revolving around three themes: modernisation of the grid and related infrastructure, decarbonisation, conversion and transitional fuels, and the just transition. The overall goal of the conversations will be to develop a roadmap to decarbonisation with a focus on 2030, the energy ministry said.
The previous decarbonisation plan, which will be five-years old in 2024, followed a similar discussion path and was accompanied with a government agreement with utility majors to start closing down all 28 coal-fired power plants in Chile by 2040 at the latest.
Between 2019 and 2022, eight coal-burning units ceased operations — Italian utility Enel closed three, France’s Engie four and AES Andes (formerly AES Gener) shut down one plant, according to a report from the environmentalist collective Chile Sustentable published separately from the ministry’s announcement.
Of the 20 units that remain, 12 either have a set date for closure or conversion to a different fuel (biomass and natural gas) or are waiting for the national energy commission to respond to a request for closure by January 2025.
The concern for Chile Sustentable are the last eight units, whose owners have not yet committed to closing them. Moreover, one of the units was sold to an entity that did not participate in the 2019 decarbonisation agreement with the government.
The environmentalist group believes that it is possible for Chile to close all of its coal-based power plants by 2030. In the report it said that such a move would require the state to show leadership, eliminate subsidies for fossil-fuel generation, remove regulatory obstacles that stand in the way to wider installation of non-conventional renewables and energy storage, address technological challenges and the socio-economic and environmental impact of the transformation.
This week, the group welcomed the ministry’s plan for the second round of Chile’s decarbonisation.