Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Ortega A., Escobar R., Colle S. and Luna de Abreu S. (2010)

The state of solar energy resource assessment in Chile

Revista : Renewable Energy
Volumen : 35
Número : 11
Páginas : 2514
Tipo de publicación : ISI


The Chilean government has determined that a renewable energy quota of up to 10% of the electrical energy generated must be met by 2024. This plan has already sparked interest in wind, geothermal, hydro and biomass power plants in order to introduce renewable energy systems to the country. Solar energy is being considered only for demonstration, small-scale CSP plants and for domestic water heating applications. This apparent lack of interest in solar energy is partly due to the absence of a valid solar energy database, adequate for energy system simulation and planning activities. One of the available solar radiation databases is 20-40 years old, with measurements taken by pyranographs and Campbell-Stokes devices. A second database from the Chilean Meteorological Service is composed by pyranometer readings, sparsely distributed along the country and available from 1988, with a number of
these stations operating intermittently. The Chilean government through its National Energy Commission (CNE) has contracted the formulation of a simulation model and also the deployment of network of measurement stations in northern Chile. Recent efforts by the authors have resulted in a preliminary assessment by satellite image processing. Here, we compare the existing databases of solar radiation in Chile. Monthly mean solar energy maps are created from ground measurements and satellite estimations and compared. It is found that significant deviation exists between sources, and that all ground-station measurements display unknown uncertainty levels, thus highlighting the need for a proper, countrywide
long-term resource assessment initiative. However, the solar energy levels throughout the
country can be considered as high, and it is thought that they are adequate for energy planning activities – although not yet for proper power plant design and dimensioning.