Chile is giving away solar energy for free

Chile is giving away solar energy for free

The South American country has been producing so much solar power this year that it is giving it away for free.

In certain areas of Chile, there is such a large oversupply that consumers don’t have to pay anything to power their homes. Spot prices for solar power dropped to zero for 11 days of the year, with more days of free electricity to follow.

Fed by 29 solar farms, the country’s central grid is generating four times more electricity than it was three years ago.

Unfortunately, there is a grid in the north of the country that is not as good as the other areas with people having to pay higher than normal prices.

Salvatore Bernabei, head of Enel Green Power SpA’s operations in Chile said: “The rapid development of renewables was a surprise and now we have to react quickly.”

Solar capacity on the country’s grid, known as SIC, has more than quadrupled to 770 megawatts since 2013. The majority of that comes from the grid’s northern sections, the Atacama region that is home to the copper industry.

The government plans on building a new 3,000 kilometre transmission link to connect the two grids by 2017.

Energy Minister Maximo Pacheco said: “Chile has at least seven or eight points in the transmission lines that are collapsed and blocked, and we have an enormous challenge to bypass the choke points,” said Energy Minister Maximo Pacheco. “When you embark on a path of growth and development like the one we’ve had, you obviously can see issues arising.”

Chile is anticipated to install around 1.4 gigawatts of solar power this year, up from 371MW in 2015.