June 5 (Renewables Now) - Chile will close eight coal-fired power plants by 2024 and the remaining 20 by 2040, president Sebastian Piñera announced Tuesday.
The first eight to go have an installed capacity of 1,047 MW between them and account for 19% of the country’s total coal-fired generation capacity. As they are being phased out, renewable energy power plants will step in to fill the gap, Chilean energy minister Susana Jimenez said.
This year, two units of 171 MW in total at the Tocopilla power plant will stop burning coal after more than three decades in operation. Between 2020 and 2024, six other plants will follow suit.
The total phaseout will depend on the economic, social and environmental impact of the plant shutdowns. According to the energy ministry, a working group will convene every five years to determine the exact timetable with an understanding between the government and plant operators that all coal-fired power facilities have to cease operations by 2040.
The energy ministry said that closed plants could only work under a newly established reserve regime controlled by the national grid operator. This means that the plants can be switched on only in emergency situations when there is an electricity shortage. However, they can operate in this regime for a maximum of five years after which they will be closed for good.