Perspectives énergétiques au Chili (en anglais)

Résumé d'un article paru dans le Santiago Times en janvier 2018.
An article published in the Santiago Times provides interesting figures on energy in Chile.

Chile has announced an ambitious goal as the country is on track to rely on clean energy sources for 90% of its electricity needs by 2050. In 2017, 44% of the electricity was produced by clean sources (water, wind, solar, geothermal, or biomass sources). This change in direction occurred after Argentina cut off natural gas exports to Chile in 2008 because they could not produce enough for their own needs.

Chile’s per-capita CO2 emissions peaked in 2014 at 4.7 tons and have declined slightly since then. But these emissions per capita are three times what they were in 1990. Indeed, fossil fuels are still to heat buildings, in industrial heat processes or to power vehicles. Fossil fuels were used for 73.3% of Chile’s total energy supply in 2015 and the country even had to import them. Chile is therefore highly dependent on fossil fuels.

Chile has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world, and produces 40% of the world supply of this mineral, which is an important ingredient in electric vehicle batteries.

Photovoltaic solar farms are typically less than 20% efficient at producing electricity in practice, and the location of solar farms in deserts far away from Chile’s population centres causes important losses in distribution. Even with the advances in photovoltaic cells raising their efficiency and lowering costs, the resulting electricity is too expensive to be practical for heating and cooling buildings. An interesting and cheaper solution could be designing new buildings with minimal heating or cooling needs, and to insulate existing buildings.

Cooling buildings in Chile is complicated: typical office buildings facades are mostly made of glass. This design helps to capture heat in the winter, but it makes cooling very difficult and expensive in the summer: some of these buildings require more than 2.5 kW/m2 for air-conditioning. Solar assisted heat-pump cooling could be a cost-efficient solution.

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