Chile-NREL Rural Electrification Activities
NREL has provided technical expertise to take a large projects in Chile from initial assessment to implementation. The goal of the NREL activities was to assist the Chilean Comission Nacinal de Energia (CNE) and other Chilean organizations in the development of training infrastructure through capacity building, technical assistance and industry/project support. Main projects included:
Technical Assistance to CNE in Rural Electrification Replication Programs:
Through this activity NREL provided CNE with technical assistance in the development of regional rural electrification projects. The primary example of this was the Rural Islands Electrification Project in the 10th Region which covered the electrification of approximately 3500 families on 30 islands in the Chiloe region of southern Chile. In the development of the project NREL and CNE has conducted extensive load estimates, population surveys, resource assessments and finally system design studies in order to develop the project and obtain funding support. Through the Federal Ministry of Public Works, the United Nations Development Program, the American Development Bank, and the e7 Utility group CNE has lined up funding for the project, expected to be between $15-20 million. Other regional projects included school electrification projects and diesel retrofit analysis in the 12th region of Chile.
Technical assistance in the implementation of renewable and diesel retrofit projects:
Next to primary rural electrification, the retrofit of existing diesel facilities is a prime concern for the rural electrification group at CNE. CNE has identified a number of such plants that may be retrofitted with either wind or micro-hydro technology. This has included the installation of wind based power systems in numerous Chelan communities including the Isla Tac project that was installed in early 2000 and was inaugurated by President Lagos in October of that year and the San Pedro and the small rural school of Aqua Fresca, all to demonstrate the use of wind technology. As the first step to wider implementation of large wind applications CNE and NREL worked on the re-powering of the diesel power system for the community of San Juan Bautista. The island community of approximately 700 people currently gets power from a diesel power station which provides power 24 hours per day. NREL supported CNE with both resource assessment and design assistance, which has enabled them to obtain federal and provincial funding for the project and develop technical request for proposals that will lead to project development, which was launched in 2005. NREL also provided technical expertise to other organizations, such as the SAESA Group of utilities, in the implementation of wind technologies.
Training and educational development:
Over the 8 years of work in Chile NREL provided educational assistance to organizations within Chile on renewable energy technologies, wind resource assessment and systems analysis modeling tools. Through collaboration with institutions such as the Universidad de Magallanes (Punta Arenas) and the UNDP/GEF Energia Renovables program NREL provided training programs to allow the expanded development of renewable energy technologies in Chile.