Late August Korkia’s internationally based co-workers visited Finland and the Helsinki home office – some for the very first time. Due to the distances it is very rare to have the whole team together, so the opportunity to meet face to face was enjoyed to the fullest. Chilean project engineers Diego Leyton and Rodrigo Orellana were particularly busy during their stay in Finland as they were interviewed for a solar energy article by the Finnish news magazine Tekniikka & Talous (in Engl. Technology & Business). After the interview, we continued the discussion on renewable energy in Chile with Diego and Rodrigo.
What are the prospects for renewable energy in Chile?
“In recent years Chile has taken significant steps in its transition to green energy. The shift towards renewable energy is visible throughout society, as large-scale industrial projects as well as increasing amounts of installed solar panels on the rooftops of Chileans’ homes. According to the energy policy formulated in 2015, the goal for 2025 was for 25% of Chile’s energy matrix to be renewable – a figure that has already been exceeded. It is expected that renewable energy will take up 60% of the energy matrix by 2035 and 70% by 2050, achieving the decarbonization of the energy matrix in Chile. We would argue, however, that these projections could be even more optimistic if improvements in energy efficiency are also taken into consideration.”
What is the process like for setting up a solar power plant in Chile?
“A solar project consists of three phases: Development, construction and operation. For a solar project to be successful and meet the investment expectations, it is necessary that all these phases are as coordinated as possible. The development phase must be as efficient as possible, and the project developer should know how to foresee possible difficulties or delays in development that may involve a risk for the investor.”
“Similarly, experience tells us that when a construction company is involved in the final phase of project development, the transition between the development phase is smoother and more efficient, improving communication channels. Also, when the companies operating the park are involved in the final stages of project construction, processes tend to improve, which benefits the first years of operation.”
Then, what are the typical obstacles in this process?
“The main obstacles to a solar project in Chile typically arise in the development phase. It is important to work in close connection with local, e.g. environmental and territorial, authorities. Without local expertise and networks, it is difficult to move on efficiently with the project. For example, just foreseeing permit processing times can be difficult because local criteria of the authorities are very specific and vary a lot. So, the developer´s expertise in terms of regulatory and technical knowledge is essential for the success of any project.”
What could Chile teach European countries when it comes to solar energy?
“Chile has succeeded in attracting foreign investors and proactively modifying its regulatory framework to favor the conditions for renewable energy projects. A great example of this is the long-term energy policy launched in 2015 called “Energy 2050”, which gives security to investors in betting on new technologies and recovering their investments. We believe that Chile’s proactivity and flexibility with respect to investment in energy is a quality that should be recognized.”
What do you think is Korkia’s advantage in Chilean markets?
“Our main advantage in the Chilean market is our clever risk-taking strategy, which is always backed up by our technical and regulatory expertise as well as thorough understanding of the market. Also, Korkia introduces a new form of investment that, with its development phase focus, differs from what has been done before in this field. Lastly, our already strong track record in solar speaks for itself and makes us an ideal partner when entering the world of renewable energy in Chile.”
Diego Leyton works as a project engineer at Korkia and is motivated by the new challenges proposed by the changes in the energy matrix. Outside of work Diego is a big music lover and active practitioner of yoga.
Rodrigo Orellana started working at Korkia’s Chile based technical team in January 2022. Rodrigo has long been interested in the energy markets, so he considers his job a vocation. He enjoys spending his free time with his family or watching comedy series.