National electrification rate (2007): 99%In urban areas: close to 100%In rural areas: 93.5%.
The Proyecto de Electrificación Rural (PER) started in 1994 to overcome poverty, improve quality of life and integrate rural areas into the economic and social development of Chile. Under the umbrella of PER, a new project was developed between 2001 and 2008 (Removal of Barriers for Rural Electrification with Renewable Energies). Its main goals were to: create a market for renewable energies (including rural electrification); standardize and certify renewable energy equipment; build capacity; implement financing mechanisms to reduce investment risks; introduce market evaluation; collect data on renewable resources; and develop rural electrification investment projects.In order to complement the reform of the electricity sector, the new long-term program Programa País de Eficiencia Energética (PPEE) was launched in January 2005.
Renewable energy is currently mostly used for rural electrification or other small-scale power generation. Chile has nevertheless huge solar, wind and geothermal potential.Solar energy The Atacama Desert gets up to 9.28 kilowatt-hours of sun daily per square meter, among the world’s highest.Wind energyWind power has been used mostly for rural electrification purposes. It is estimated that 25 GW could be generated from wind energy. But wind energy's largest potential is in the South of Chile, in the remote area of Patagonia: the distance to the central SIC energy grid makes a large wind farm in Patagonia unprofitable as local demand is still low. In other parts of Chile, several large scale wind parks are under construction.Chile installed new wind turbines in the year 2010 (2,6 MW).Geothermal energyChile also has 10% of the world’s active volcanoes, highlighting an abundant potential for geothermalEnergy – with the potential to generate 16 GW. Since 2000, special legislation and subsidies promote the development of geothermal energy, which has been officially designated the country’s strategic priority. Seven 40 MW geothermal generation projects are planned to be built between 2016 and 2020.In January 2009 a new bill was proposed to congress which provides incentives to companies seeking to invest in the development of geothermal projects.Biomass energyBiomass accounts for around half of Chile´s installed renewable energy production. Power generated from biomass projects in Chile are currently added directly to the grid, mainly through electrical co-generation plants that use industrial waste from the pulp and paper industry. Biomass is commonly used for cooking.