Hydropower in Chile
La Confluencia is a 163-ME river power plant near Puente Negro in Chile that has been in operation since December 2010 and generates electricity from flowing water. The project uses the resources of the three rivers Tinguiririca, Portillo and Azufre to generate emission-free energy and feed it into the central Chilean power grid. This avoids the use of fossil fuels. Other benefits of the project are the conservation of natural resources, the promotion of renewable energy production, reduced dependence on non-renewable energy, the contribution to the global diffusion of green technologies and the improvement of health. One of the basic principles of the operating company, Hidroelectrica La Confluencia S.A., is to generate sustainable energy while building relationships and bonds with local rural communities. In 2007, Tinguiririca Energía founded the "Tinguiririca Participa" funding programme, through which the company finances proposals submitted by community organisations near the hydropower plants in areas such as health, education and the environment. In the first year of the programme, this made it possible to fund 11 projects, while today the number of projects exceeds 200. All these initiatives aim to meet the needs of the community. Thanks to the commitment to environmental sustainability, valuable information has been gained about the flora and fauna of the valley, as well as about the conditions of local crops. As a result, a number of measures have been implemented to protect and restore the flora and fauna in the areas of the power plants: Tricahue Parrot, Torrent Duck, Freshwater Catfish, including the reforestation of about 120 hectares with native species.
Chile has set itself a major goal: The Andean country wants to be climate-neutral by 2050. A fundamental energy turnaround is needed for the power supply to achieve this, and the country is well on its way. The expansion of renewable energies has increased rapidly over the past five years, so that coal-fired power plants can now be taken off the grid earlier than expected. The goal is to be completely independent of coal-fired power by 2040.Together with the share of fossil fuels, hydropower currently forms the backbone of Chilean electricity generation. Hydropower currently generates 20.9 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, geothermal and biomass 10 TWh, and wind and solar 10.9 TWh. In general, the country is well on its way with solar and wind, which is further boosted by its geographically favorable location. With a total of 6,000 kilometers of coastline, Chile has ideal conditions for the use of renewable energies. While wind and solar energy accounted for just six percent of Chile's energy mix in 2014, this figure had already risen to 20 percent by 2019.The government has set itself ambitious targets for the coming years with its "National Energy Policy 2050" program: By 2035, 60 percent of the country's electricity generation is to come from renewable energies, and by 2050 as much as 70 percent.
Small hydropower plants use the energy of free-flowing water without using a dam. This allows diesel generators to be replaced by clean electricity generation. Small turbines are placed in a free-flowing river or stream and capture the kinetic energy of the water without creating a dam. As an underwater analogue to wind turbines, their blades rotate as the water flows by, generating electricity relatively continuously. No barriers, diversions or storage are required, only limited structural support. There are no emissions.
Supported UN Sustainable Development Goals
The hydropower project in Chile is being implemented in the valley of the Tinguiririca, Azufre and Portillo rivers. These three rivers rise in the Andes, about 120 km south of Santiago, and flow west towards the Pacific Ocean. The nearest major city is San Fernando.