July 08, 2024 #ChileSustentable

Anahí Urquiza, member of the H2V Strategic Committee: "Chile conveys an attractive image for developing the energy transition".

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Our country is one of the 20 countries best prepared for the energy transition according to the World Economic Forum. Anahí Urquiza, an academic at the University of Chile and researcher at the Center for Climate Science and Resilience, explains the reasons behind this progress and the current challenges.

With a jump of 10 places, Chile stands out as one of the 20 countries best prepared for the energy transition (20th), according to the Energy Transition Index (ETI) conducted each year by the World Economic Forum.

The ETI compares 120 countries according to the current performance of their energy system and the degree of preparedness of their environments, and in the region, Chile is only surpassed by Brazil, which ranks 12th. Sweden leads the ranking and in the last decade, only 30 countries have shown progress of more than 10%. 

Chile climbed 10 places in the ranking with respect to 2023. This year it ranked 20th in the world.

The report argues that the lack of consistent and balanced progress highlights the challenge faced by many countries, due to the increasing complexity of macroeconomic scenarios and geopolitical tensions. In this sense, we wanted to find out what are the conditions that have allowed Chile to advance in this indicator.

"The transversal commitment to the decarbonization of the energy matrix, the development of long-term strategic orientations and the capacity for innovation has allowed the country to systematically advance in the energy transition", says Anahí Urquiza, an academic at the University of Chile, researcher at the Center for Climate Science and Resilience, and member of the Green Hydrogen Strategic Committee, who also highlights the public-private collaboration: "it is these collaborative efforts that have allowed progress in the energy transition".

Chile has made steady progress in the World Economic Forum's Energy Transition Index. In your opinion, what are the main factors that have made this possible? 

Our country has very favorable geographical conditions for the generation of renewable energies. Sun, wind, water and geothermal energy allow us to have a wide range of this type of generation throughout the country. At the same time, the transversal commitment to the decarbonization of the energy matrix, the development of long-term strategic guidelines and the capacity for innovation have allowed the country to systematically advance in the energy transition.

What role has public-private collaboration played in this? 

In Chile, different public-private collaboration spaces have been developed that have allowed articulating the relevant actors of the different sectors, generating work networks, trust and dialogue to build common horizons. The Energy2050 planning process was key here. It is these collaborative efforts that have made it possible to advance in the energy transition, in a context where, if the State were alone, the planning capacity would be limited. 

In recent years there has been an increase in clean energy projects. What strategic role does our country play in this global challenge? What image does Chile transmit to the world?

Chile conveys an attractive image for the energy transition, both for its generation potential and its institutional stability. At the same time, it has positioned itself as a possible producer of renewable energies for export, either through the generation of non-conventional renewables or other types of fuels produced from green hydrogen. However, there are also limitations due to conflicts in the territories, limitations in long-term investment and connectivity difficulties. Undoubtedly, these are all aspects that could be addressed if we were able to develop better planning of the territories and greater investment in technological developments at the national level. 

Which sectors are currently the most prepared in Chile to take on the energy transition? 

Today the mining sector has made important advances. It is increasingly common for mining activities to produce their own energy or to promote the development of renewable energies for their consumption. This has allowed lowering the demand for transmission, but at the same time has positioned mining in the field of sustainability. 

Sweden, Denmark and Finland lead this ranking, what can Chile learn from these countries about its clean energy generation capacity?

There are three key elements that we should learn from them: long-term investment in enabling infrastructure, the promotion of technological development and the generation of regulatory frameworks that address the different areas of the sector (generation, transmission, distribution), giving confidence to the different actors in the system. What is important about these efforts is that they also advance in the decoupling between economic development and energy consumption, lowering energy intensity and achieving a more efficient use of resources. Although Chile does not have the same economic, institutional and technological conditions, we do have multiple resources to advance along these lines. We must advance in the pending challenges with a focus on a just transition, protecting both the territories and the citizens in the process.

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