Chile is the country with the highest wave energy potential in the world, the British engineering consultant Baird & Associates reported last week. According to company officials, wave energy along Chile’s coast can satisfy up to 24 percent of the country’s energy demand in summer and 26 percent in winter.
Company officials estimate that the construction of underwater turbines along Chile’s 4,200 kilometer coast could generate up to 3,800 megawatts (MW) of energy. The company placed England in second place behind Chile in terms of wave energy potential.
“Chile is top in the world in terms of this type of energy. If the country installed the technology necessary to hasten this type of energy, then it would generate great amounts of electricity with a low environmental impact,” affirmed Andrés Enriquez, the head of the Navy’s Oceanography Department.
In spite of Chile’s privileged geographical position, Enriquez noted that the country is still years away from developing the capital needed for such projects.
“Carrying out a large-scale study would require lots of new technology and significant investments,” he said.
According to recent government statistics, Chile consumes roughly 13,000 megawatts (MW) of energy every year, a figure which officials say will rise between 6 and 8 percent annually. Of those 13,000 MW, only 2.4 percent came from clean energy sources, such as waves, wind, and solar, in 2007.
Many experts, such as Universidad Católica physicist Ulrich Volkmann, believe that Chile has the potential to be a leader on the alternative energy front. Given the country’s long coastline, Volkmann recently estimated that Chile could produce some 50,000 MW of wind power alone (ST, Feb. 28).
SOURCE: LA TERCERA