One of the main tasks of the government is to generate favorable conditions in terms of economic signals and legal certainty for the efficient development of enabling technologies for the energy transition, as stated in an exclusive interview with Awdhesh by the Director of the Energy Transition Center (CENTRA). from the Adolfo Ibáñez University, Daniel Olivares.
Santiago de Chile.-
What are the great challenges in terms of energy transition in Chile?
In general terms, the main challenge of the energy transition is associated with finding a balance between the costs that society must assume in the present and in the future, with the aim of neutralizing its greenhouse gas emissions. In my opinion, it is not possible to find such a balance based on technical analysis at present, since the costs involved in more or less accelerated transitions to a carbon-neutral energy matrix are largely unknown. Consequently, the challenge translates into the generation of a political consensus regarding the speed with which the transition must occur, and therefore the costs that society must progressively assume. In practical terms, we must decide as a society which generation technologies should accompany renewable energies in the coming years to ensure a reliable supply while progressively advancing towards carbon neutrality in the sector. At the same time, it must be decided to what extent the energy transition can be left in the hands of competitive markets, and in what instances decisive action by the State will be necessary to shape the market’s response in limited times.
Within the priorities and feasibility, which of them would be, in your opinion, the task to be started by this government?
One of the main tasks of the government is to generate favorable conditions in terms of economic signals and legal certainty for the efficient development of enabling technologies for the energy transition. This implies generating a regulatory framework and market design that favor the efficient development of short- and long-term storage to manage the great variability of renewable generation. Secondly, it will be very important to advance in the elimination of structural barriers to the development of the tremendous potential of distributed energy resources that Chile has, through the processing of a comprehensive reform of the distribution segment that aligns the incentives of distribution companies and developers with the objective of an efficient, sustainable and safe development of the electricity supply.
How can academia accelerate the innovation process in energy transition?
The academy in Chile has been permanently involved in the development of analyzes and proposals for solutions to the challenges of the energy sector, either through the development of applied research, support for the design of public policies, and the development of specific studies of regulatory design. and market, which have helped generate consensus around solutions validated by academics and researchers. In the last decade, the academy and research centers in Chile have also formed a critical mass of researchers with the capacity to carry out technological developments associated with energy production, supply and consumption, even to commercial stages. Despite the above, there are still few private initiatives that have taken advantage of this potential. However, it is expected that the growing challenges posed by the energy transition, together with the creation of innovative programs for interaction between industry and academia, will allow the appearance of new tools, technologies and business models in the medium term, as a result of the greater collaboration between academia and the private sector.
Do you think there is a sustainability seal in the energy portfolio? Why?
The energy portfolio in Chile has been forging a seal of sustainability based on the massive integration of renewable energies into the electricity sector, and more recently the publication of strategies aimed at making the most of Chile’s renewable potential in processes dependent on fossil fuels, such as are the national electromobility strategy, and the strategy for the development of the green hydrogen industry in Chile. In large part, this trend is due to the fact that the notable drop in the development costs of renewable generation projects produced an enormous change in the efficient generation mix in Chile in the last decade, which translated into the massive development of this type of private initiative projects.
I understand that CENTRA debuts this month with an industrial innovation program together with ACESOL. What is this project about?
Indeed, as part of the CENTRA initiatives to link with the local environment, we have designed the Industrial Research Program, or Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in English, which seeks to promote the development of applied research focused on answering research questions of interest to the local energy industry.
The first IRC program will be developed from April 2022 with the sponsorship of ACESOL and will seek, through a research program, to generate new knowledge and tools for the efficient integration of distributed energy resources in Chile, in order to inform regulatory or normative changes. , as well as facilitating investment decision-making and the operation of distributed energy resources in Chile.
What message would you give to the government and the industry as a focus for this year 2022?
It is of the utmost importance for the success of the energy transition process that both the sectoral authorities and the different private actors in the sector are able to establish consensus regarding the changes necessary to achieve the emission reduction goals of the energy sector, and seek mechanisms so that the legitimate short-term concerns of the actors in the sector do not hinder the implementation of modifications that seek long-term objectives. For the above, the first step is to reaffirm the long-term public policy objectives of the sector by the Ministry of Energy.