Chile moves towards carbon neutrality and announces plan to close all coal-fired power plants

President Sebastián Piñera presented a plan to close coal-fired power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to encourage the use of renewable energies.

Together with Energy Minister Susana Jiménez and Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt and as part of a programme agreed with power companies Engie, CGE, AES Gener and Colbún a five-year timeframe was established to close eight power plants, which represent 19% of coal-fired installed generation capacity. Four of these plants, totalling 1,047MW, are in Tocopilla, two are in Puchuncaví, one in Iquique and one in Coronel.

Also established was a commitment to set up working groups every five years to review new closure programmes, with the aim of closing all coal-fired power plants by 2040 and being carbon neutral by 2050. “With these measures we are facing up to one of the principal sources of greenhouse gas emissions,” said the Head of State at a ceremony at the Cerrillos Bicentenary Park, where the COP25 climate change summit will be held in December. The decarbonization makes Chile a pioneer in the fulfilment of international goals to reduce emissions and adopt clean technologies; agreements that were made in the 2015 Paris Accord on climate change. Presently, Chile’s national power grid has 28 coal-fired power plants, averaging 18 years’ operations and which emit 26% of all greenhouse gases and contribute almost 40% of the country’s power generation. Renewable energy increased its share of national installed capacity from 32.8% in 2013 to 45.5% in 2018. Solar powered generation has increased by 750 times between 2013 and 2018, while wind power has multiplied by seven.