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    Tripartite roundtable prepares to present plan to advance decarbonization to 2030

    August 1, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras


      Bringing forward the retirement of coal-fired power plants has been the trend since 2019, when the voluntary plan that set the goal of exiting the system by 2040 was implemented, and it is also a purpose of the current Ministry of Energy. To this end, a tripartite roundtable was created with the teams of the National Energy Commission (CNE) and the Electricity Coordinator, which is already working towards its first milestones.

      The purpose of the committee, which meets weekly, is to establish the requirements of the system to operate without coal-fired power plants by 2030, and what regulatory changes should be implemented for this purpose, with a responsible short- and medium-long term view.

      The work has been stealthy, but they are already working on models and simulations. When consulted, the Ministry of Energy says that, as part of the initial analysis and as part of the progress, "a survey has been made of the large number of studies that the electricity sector has made available, in addition to the more detailed analyses of the more detailed table to determine, above all, operational requirements in the short term".

      At the same time, work is being done on alternative modifications to regulatory instruments that will provide solutions to a series of challenges within the framework of decarbonization. Thus, the round table is preparing a closure plan that would contemplate deadlines, enabling factors and the regulatory framework that would provide the necessary signals for decarbonization.

      Transmission companies warn: lack of long-term planning and permitting delays put decarbonization in jeopardy

      A milestone is already in sight. "The results of the roundtable will be available during the third quarter of this year, which we will then work on with the industry to have a comprehensive view that considers the different aspects of the challenge", they say.

      On the other hand, they are currently taking as a basis the existing commitments to the year 2025, looking at the effects that these would have on the supply and security of the electricity system, bearing in mind the development times of new projects.

      From there, they add, they are "analyzing different trajectories to reach the neighborhood of 2030, in this instance from the technical point of view, after finishing this roundtable, including the territorial, community and sustainability dimension". This second stage is associated with the interministerial work that is being developed around the Just Socio-Ecological Transition with a gender perspective, bearing in mind the plans for their retirement or reconversion.

      The variables at stake

      One of the most important variables being considered to decide on an eventual advance of the retirement is to have security of supply throughout the territory of the electricity system. "Regarding the rationing decree in force and the energy shortage problems we have had during this year, we are working so that they are not repeated in the following periods. In addition to this, there are global contingencies related to the availability of fuels", they indicate.

      Secondly, the operational aspect of the electricity system is looked at, related to the greater requirements of inertia and strength of the system's network, an issue in which -says the portfolio led by Claudio Huepe- "we are working to deliver the signals, all aligned with the legislative and regulatory changes for the storage and availability of renewable energy at all times of the day".


      The tightness of the electricity system had worrying moments last year, forcing the retirement of power plants to be postponed, as it became essential to have generation to provide the necessary security. However, in recent months conditions have improved, which has allowed the disconnection of units to proceed.

      Grupo Saesa after the purchase of Enel's transmission assets: "It reflects the long-term commitment of our shareholders with Chile".

      September will be a relevant month, as the retirement of unit 15 of Engie's Tocopilla Thermal Power Plant and Enel's Bocamina II is expected. Meanwhile, AES Andes' Ventanas II is authorized to end its operations in December 2025, although this year it will have to be included in the Strategic Reserve Status (ERE), which is conditioned to the end of the Agua Santa works.

      Regarding the feasibility of bringing forward the retirement of coal-fired power plants under a somewhat more encouraging scenario, the portfolio warns that "the level of rainfall of a particular year cannot make us forget the trend we are in", adding that "we are analyzing decarbonization with a short, medium and long term view, which guarantees supply".

      In this regard, the executive director of the Chilean Association of Renewable Energies and Storage (Acera), Ana Lía Rojas, assures: "We have to worry about advancing decarbonization as soon as the enabling conditions are adequately presented in the system, where transmission and storage systems are crucial". But he also warns that we have to worry about "the management of renewable energies so as not to end up with an early decarbonization that results in problems of stability or insecurity of supply, costs in the system and dumping".

      For the managing partner of energiE, Daniel Salazar, "more than a timetable, what is most expected are measures, commitments, signals, specific regulations regarding the conditions for this timetable to be fulfilled". "We have not had a concrete action plan to date," he stresses.

      As for the regulatory changes - in the short term - that are key to the objective of operating without coal-fired plants by 2030, the expert points out that - from what is currently known - the storage project that is before Congress must be approved, the LNG technical standard must be reviewed, and the power regulation that is before the Comptroller General of the Republic must be cleared up - by approving or withdrawing it.


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