Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Geothermal Country Notes
There has been interest in geothermal exploration in Chile since the beginning of the 20th century and although in recent years the question of security of energy supply has given the development greater impetus, a higher emphasis on the use of renewable energy generally needs to be instituted prior to further progress.
It has been established that the Chilean Andes has more than 300 hot spring areas, giving the country an estimated high-temperature (over 150°C) potential of some 16 000 MWt.
In the opening years of the 21st century the Geology Department of the University of Chile together with the National Oil Company (ENAP) and various countries with geothermal expertise undertook a research project in the central-southern areas of the country. Additionally, ENAP has worked with CODELCO (the National Copper Corporation) in the northern and southern regions. The intention of the studies was to establish areas that would be suitable for the generation of electricity.
Statistical data regarding the utilisation of geothermal heat is sparse but at the present time all usage is for recreational purposes (spas and swimming pools). It was stated during 2005 that the National Commission of Energy (CNE) was considering the possibility of installing three 100 MW electricity generating plants within the next ten years.