Solar energy for power and heat generation

Project description

Title: Solar energy for power and heat generation
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: Chile
Lead executing agency: Chile’s Ministry of Energy
Overall term: 2012 to 2017

Context

Chile is enjoying strong economic growth. This has led to an increase in the number of conventional thermal power plants and a surge in fossil fuel consumption, resulting in a substantial rise in Chile’s greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of Chile’s energy policy is to ensure the security of supply at competitive costs while taking climate change mitigation criteria into account. Legislation adopted in 2008 set a quota for renewable energies and established a basis for their integration into the market. Due to Chile’s optimal solar irradiation conditions, solar energy plays an important role in this context.

In order to encourage market development, the Ministry of Energy has adopted a promotion law which creates tax incentives for the use of solar collectors for water heating. In the power generation sector, the Net Billing Law regulates grid feed-in of surplus electricity from small-scale systems delivering up to 100 kW for home consumption. The tendering process for Latin America’s first large-scale solar power plant has been completed.

Objective

The project’s objective was to open up economically viable market segments for the use of solar energy for power and heat generation, with a focus on self-supply, and to establish favourable conditions for the installation of this technology.

Approach

The project, which ended in April 2017, focused on the interface between the solar market and energy policy. The knowledge gained from the project activities was continuously integrated into the advisory services provided to Chile’s Ministry of Energy and helped to establish favourable conditions for the installation of this technology.

In the legislative field, the project team participated in preparing the regulatory framework and technical standards for the new Distributed Generation Law, producing more than 50 studies and contracts with national and international experts. It also organised fact-finding missions to Germany, Mexico and Spain, in which 44 staff from the Ministry of Energy, the national regulator’s Electricity and Fuels Superintendence (SEC), the Undersecretariat of Telecommunications and private energy suppliers participated. With regard to tax incentives for the use of solar thermal systems, the project conducted two studies on the costs of solar installations.

In order to improve the supply of renewable energies, the project supported the Chilean Ministry of Energy’s Public Solar Roofs Programme, which promotes the installation of photovoltaic systems on public buildings. The project team also contributed to the development of a business model – the Energy Service Company (ESCO) – for photovoltaic power generation.

The Public Solar Roofs Programme received comprehensive support from the project during its conceptual development and initial implementation. In addition, technical guidelines were developed for the programme, comprising: (1) Guide for an initial evaluation of a photovoltaic installation; (2) Operation and maintenance of photovoltaic systems; (3) Document checklist for inspection prior to final delivery; (4) Guide to good and bad practices for photovoltaic installations on roofs; (5) Technical guide for field visits and tender documents for installations.

For the ESCO business model, the project team produced a report analysing the legal and tax situation and a template for energy supply contracts.

In order to increase demand for photovoltaic electricity and solar-generated heat, the project team identified and analysed various areas of application in which self-supply of photovoltaic electricity and solar-generated heat is economically viable. This sent out positive signals to encourage the development of further photovoltaic projects. In this context, support was provided for end users and more than 15 pre-feasibility studies were produced for various economic sectors, including the chemical, paper and food industries, as well as for supermarkets, residential properties and other small and medium-sized enterprises. The project was also able to boost demand via the Government’s Public Solar Roofs Programme, for which it produced and distributed audiovisual guides to the installation of photovoltaic systems. This programme now also has its own website. A report summarising the results of the Solar Roofs Programme has been effective in boosting the general public’s interest in the initiative. The project also developed a price index for photovoltaic systems and a solar energy calculator.

With support from the project, the Electricity and Fuels Superintendence (SEC) established a digital platform, including a register for solar thermal installations. The platform also facilitates exchange between the SEC, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning and the Tax Administration (SII) in connection with the amendment of the legislation on tax incentives for solar thermal installations.

The project supported the establishment of photovoltaic laboratories at six training centres and universities. The training courses cover theoretical and practical elements: for example, students experiment with various on-grid and stand-alone photovoltaic systems, thus building their technical skills.

Results

The studies and fact-finding missions have increased the Chilean regulatory and supervisory authorities’ knowledge of the legal framework and practical operation of decentralised power generation in Germany, enabling them to adapt this model to the Chilean context. As of March 2017, Chile had installed 657 photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of 5.2 megawatts, which operate within the framework of the Distributed Generation Law. Over their 20-year lifetime, these systems will save more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The documentation and materials produced for the Public Solar Roofs Programme provide suppliers of photovoltaic systems with standardised information and knowledge, for although many firms have a wealth of experience in planning and installing on-grid photovoltaic systems, a large number of new enterprises have now entered the market.

All the products described are boosting demand and enabling potential users and other interested parties to gain a rapid and reliable overview of the potential applications of photovoltaic technologies, market conditions and the current legal framework.

By the end of the project, more than 650 people, including public officials, had attended various courses at the photovoltaic laboratories.