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In early 2018, Chile announced that it will not build any new coal-fired power plants (without CCS) and will develop a plan to phase-out coal —which makes up 44% of electricity generation— that is aligned to the objectives set in the 2050 Energy Strategy. This is in line with current trends in Chile, where coal-fired power plant permitting has stalled in recent years in response to comparatively low costs of renewable energy. Chile’s revised energy sector planning, published in December 2017, already reflects this change, with no additional coal plants added beyond those under construction today. Renewables, in contrast, are expected to account for 56% of electricity generation in 2030.
The new planning documents also project lower economic growth rates than those cited in Chile’s NDC. Since Chile’s NDC is an intensity target, this drives down the emissions level resulting from the target: the change in GDP projections leads to an improvement of the CAT rating from “Critically Insufficient” to “Highly Insufficient.”
The updated scenario under implemented policies is also a significant downward shift from earlier estimates, projected emissions in 2030 are now 28% lower than previously projected. If Chile follows this scenario, it will achieve its 2020 pledge and come close to meeting its unconditional NDC target.
Chile’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) includes two emissions reduction targets for 2030 (one unconditional, one conditional), excluding LULUCF emissions, and additional targets for the forestry sector. The unconditional target is a 30% reduction of GHG emission intensity of GDP below 2007 levels by 2030, which is equivalent to 148% above 1990 and 38% above 2010 GHG emissions levels, excluding LULUCF. The conditional target (conditional on international financial support in the form of grants) is a 35–45% reduction of GHG emission intensity of GDP below 2007 levels by 2030, which is equivalent to 95–130% above 1990 and to 9–29% above 2010 GHG emissions levels, excluding LULUCF.
Chile also proposes to sustainably manage and recover 100,000 hectares of forest by 2030 and to reforest 100,000 ha (Government of Chile 2015), subject to approval of new laws. Chile is one of the few countries to separate the LULUCF sector target from other emissions, which increases the transparency of its proposed actions.
Under the Copenhagen Accord, Chile proposed to undertake Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) to reach an emissions level 20% below business-as-usual (BAU) by 2020 (as projected from 2007). We rated this target “Insufficient.”
The changes in the energy supply sector are substantial compared to previous assessments, and are linked to the increasingly lower costs for renewable energy in Chile, particularly solar, in comparison to coal (Ministerio de Energía 2017b; IRENA 2015). Current solar PV and onshore wind costs in Chile are as low as USD 0.03/kWh to USD 0.04/kWh (IRENA 2018).
Chile is already expanding its renewable capacity and, as of December 2016, 52% of the generation capacity under construction was in non-conventional1 renewable energy sources (Comisión Nacional de Energía & Ministerio de Energía 2017). Between 2014–2016 the share of electricity generation from non-conventional renewable energy increased by 4%—to 11% in 2016—which is a 59% increase (Comisión Nacional de Energía 2017).
1 | Chile defines non-conventional renewable energy sources as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, tidal, and hydro up to 20MW.