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: Ministry of Energy
Overall term: 2012 to 2017

Chile © GIZ


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 into account climate change mitigation criteria. In 2008, the quota law established a basis for integrating renewables into the market. Because of the outstanding insolation conditions in Chile, solar energy plays an important role in this context.

To foster market development, the Ministry of Energy has passed a promotion law that creates tax incentives for the use of solar collectors for water heating. The net billing law governs the process by which surplus energy from small systems delivering up to 100 kilowatts for captive use is fed into the distribution network. The tendering process for Latin America's first large-scale solar power plant has been completed.


Economic market segments have opened up for the use of solar energy for power and heat generation. The focus is on captive use, and conducive conditions are in place.

Chile.  © GIZ / Hugo Muñoz


The project is working at the interface between the solar market and energy policy.

The project began by identifying various areas of application in which the captive use of photovoltaic electricity and solar heat is economically viable. Innovative business models were developed for each sector. The intention is to send positive signals to encourage the development of further photovoltaic projects.

The project supports the training of solar system installers by establishing photovoltaic laboratories. It is also involved in preparations for investments in solar thermal power plants: by analyzing locations and measuring solar radiation, the project obtains information concerning the market-oriented use of concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies and makes it publicly accessible.

Another of the project's priority areas is concerned with lowering barriers to market entry for investors by preparing and providing information that has not previously been available, such as publicly accessible measurement data on solar radiation in various consumer regions as well as information about the regulatory framework and project development processes.

The insights gained within the scope of project activities are continually factored into the advice provided to the Chilean Ministry of Energy with a view to the development of enabling conditions. They are supplemented by fact-finding tours and the exchange of information and experience with German institutions.

The project provides technical advice to the Chilean Government’s public-sector solar roof program, which is concerned with installing photovoltaic systems on public buildings, as well as support to this program in respect of tenders.


The project is carrying on with the measurement campaign for ascertaining solar potential in northern Chile, which was initiated in 2008, and continues to take measurements of solar radiation with high-precision equipment. The readings are evaluated on a monthly basis and made available on the website of the Ministry of Energy.

A cadastre of the geographical zones, known as focus zones, that identifies the best conditions for developing photovoltaic projects geared towards self-supply has been published. The cadastre takes into account solar radiation and energy prices.

The solar roof register of the city of Calama, which has been published on the internet, enables all interested parties to call up information on the suitability of individual roof areas for power generation and water heating. For this purpose, the solar energy potential of each individual roof area was calculated. This solar roof register, the first in Latin America, is supplemented by a publicly accessible calculator for working out cost efficiency.

In cooperation with the solar energy association, a price index for photovoltaic systems is published every six months.

In six training centers and universities, photovoltaic laboratories have already been installed and are being used successfully for training programes.

Additionally, the project has participated in preparing regulations and technical standards for the new Distributed Generation Law. It has helped propagate the functioning and administrative processes to connect electric generators under the Distributed Generation Law.

The Public Solar Roofs Program Technical Guidelines were specifically written to diffuse the knowledge for the implementation of photovoltaic plants in other public buildings, and hence to strengthen the domestic photovoltaic market. These guidelines comprise the "Initial Assessment of Buildings for the Installation of Photovoltaic Systems Guide", and the “Operation and Maintenance of Photovoltaic Systems Guide".

Furthermore, the "ESCO PV Plants own Consumption Guide" was elaborated to analyze and define a business model that allows an Energy Services Company (ESCO) to install and operate a photovoltaic plant and supply the generated power to a customer.

Chile.  © GIZ / Hugo Muñoz