SANTIAGO, December 8 (IPS) – The Law on economical and efficient use of energy gradually began to be implemented in Chile after the approval of its regulations, but much effort and institutions were still lacking before it could produce results.
In Chile, the energy sector accounts for 74% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, generating 68 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year. For this reason, energy efficiency is crucial in tackling climate change and saving costs.
The law was passed in February 2021 and its provisions were enacted on September 13 this year, but full implementation will still take time. The law itself stipulates that its full adoption will take place “gradually”, without setting an exact deadline.
For example, currently, the energy ratings of new homes and buildings are voluntary and will become mandatory only in 2023. In addition, only practice will indicate whether field monitoring is possible. this and apply sanctions or not.
The goals of the law include reducing energy intensity and cutting greenhouse gases.
According to public private organizations Chile FoundationUsing energy efficiently has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 44% – a decisive rate for mitigating climate change in this long and narrow South American country of 19.5 million people.
“For the first time in Chile, we have an Energy Efficiency Law. This is an important step in our participatory efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, as energy efficiency has the potential to be reduced by 35 % of greenhouse gases,” the Foundation’s assistant director for sustainability, Karien Volker, told IPS.
The law sets standards for transportation, industry, mining and the residential, public, and commercial sectors. Road transport is estimated to account for about 25% of the energy used in Chile, and the 250 largest companies operating in the country consume 35% of the total energy.
Volker emphasized that the law combined energy labeling, implementation of an energy management system for large consumers and the development of a National Plan.
“After the law is implemented, energy intensity will be reduced by 10 percent, cumulative savings of $15.2 billion and reduction of 28.6 million tons of CO2 by 2030,” she said.
She also argued that the law would push large companies to meet minimum energy efficiency standards, which would change the way they operate.
“New energy-efficient homes will raise building standards in Chile and spur builders to innovate,” says Volker.
She added that “the transportation industry will also be positively impacted by setting efficiency and performance standards for vehicles entering Chile.”
Buildings under the new standard will consume only one-third as much energy as they do now.
In Chile, 53.3% of electricity is generated from renewables: hydro, solar, biomass and geothermal. The remaining 46.7% comes from thermal power plants using natural gas, coal or petroleum derivatives, most of which are imported.
Negative track record of energy efficiency
But in the recent history of this South American country, the experience of saving energy has not been a positive one. “There is complete clarity in the assessment of the situation and the recommendations,” said engineer and doctor of systems thinking Alfredo del Valle, a former adviser to the United Nations and the Chilean government on these issues. specific measures to improve energy efficiency, but nothing changed. .
Del Valle told IPS that from 2005 to 2007 he acted as a methodologist for the Chilean Ministry of Economy’s National Energy Efficiency Program to formulate national policy in this area.
“With broad public, private, academic and civic engagement, we have uncovered nearly a hundred specific energy efficiency potentials in transportation, industry and mining, residential and commercial buildings, home appliances and even culture”.
However, he lamented, “Chilean politicians do not understand what the politicians in the (industrialized) North understood 30 years ago: that it is necessary to invest money and political will in energy efficiency, just as we invest in energy supply.”
To illustrate, he noted that “the public budget for energy efficiency in 2020 is equivalent to only $10 million compared to the investment in domestic energy supply of $4.38 billion in the same year. “
According to this expert, “we need a new way of thinking and acting to be able to make social transformations and to be able to create our own future.”
Boric’s energy policy
The Energy Program 2022-2026 promoted by the leftist government of Gabriel Boric, in office since March, claims that “energy efficiency is one of the most important actions for Chile to achieve its carbon neutral goal.”
Document establishing the actions and commitments to be made as part of the National Energy Efficiency Plan. Published earlier this year, it proposes 33 measures in the manufacturing, transportation, buildings and ordinary people sectors, according to the Department of Energy.
“With all these measures, we expect to reduce total energy intensity by 4.5% by 2026 and 30% by 2050, compared to 2019,” the Agenda states.
The announcement plan to accelerate the deployment of energy management systems among major consumers to encourage more efficient use in industry, “under the provisions of the Energy Efficiency Law will be implemented gradually. “
According to the government, by 2026, 200 companies will have implemented energy management systems.
The government also announced support for micro, small and medium-sized companies to manage and use energy efficiently, and will support 2000 in self-generation and energy efficiency.
“Although as a country we have made progress in deploying renewable energy for power generation, we have not yet transferred the benefits of renewable energy sources to other areas, such as such as industrial use of heat and cold,” the document states.
Improve housing quality
In Chile there are more than five million homes and most of them do not have adequate insulation, requiring a lot of energy to heat in the winter in the Southern Hemisphere and cool in the summer.
The hope is by making “energy standards” a requirement for final approvals, city building permits, quality of housing that uses efficient equipment or non-traditional renewable energy. system will be improved. This will allow for more savings in heating, cooling, lighting and domestic hot water.
In four years, the government Agenda sets a target to insulate 20,000 social housing units, install 20,000 solar photovoltaic systems in low-income neighborhoods, renovate 400 schools to use energy efficiency, expand solar systems in rural homes, improve supplies at 50 schools in low-income rural areas, and develop distributed power generation systems to up to 500 megawatts (MW).
In recent years, Fundación Chile, along with the government and other organizations, has promoted energy efficiency schemes with the widespread installation of LED bulbs along streets and public spaces. plus other. It also promotes the replacement of refrigerators that are more than 10 years old with refrigerators that use more efficient and environmentally friendly technology.
A major milestone was the delivery of 230,000 LED bulbs to educational institutions, benefiting more than 200 schools and a total of 73,000 students, staff and teachers.
This initiative has resulted in the installation of one million LED bulbs, resulting in an estimated 4.8% savings in national consumption.
Meanwhile, the cooling campaign is more efficient than expected. The market share of such refrigerators will become 95% of A++ and A+ products, achieving savings of 1.3 terawatt hours (TWh – equivalent to one billion watts). hours).
That means a 3.1 million tons CO2 reduction by 2030.
An old refrigerator accounts for 20% of a household’s electricity bill, and a more efficient refrigerator saves up to 55%.
Currently, there are an estimated one million refrigerators in Chile that are more than 15 years old.
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service