Chile Banks on Renewable Capacity Expansion, Energy Efficiency. Chile in mid-May released a $650 million investment plan to reduce energy costs and promote non-hydro renewable energy development for the country that imports about 60% of its primary energy resources. The plan calls for a 30% cut in marginal power costs on Chile’s central grid, which serves 90% of the country’s citizens, by 2018. It also requires that 45% of power capacity installed between 2014 and 2025 be from solar, wind, and geothermal sources to put Chile closer to its target of producing 20% of its energy from renewables. The government also called for energy savings of up to 20,000 GWh per year. Experts have warned that Chile must triple its 18 GW capacity within 15 years to continue growing its economy (see “Chile’s Power Challenge: Reliable Energy Supplies” in the September 2012 issue). Chile’s power mix is dominated by hydropower, but droughts have left a country that has no indigenous oil or natural gas reserves energy-strapped. Beyond calling on the state oil company to boost exploration, the country also hopes to build a liquefied natural gas import terminal in the mineral-rich north.
Columbia Passes Renewable Energy Law. Columbia in May passed a bill that encourages investment in research and development of clean technologies as well as the use of renewables via tax incentives. The bill also calls for rural areas that are isolated from the national grid to take up unconventional renewable energy solutions.
Germany Approves Industrial Exemption to EEG Fees. Germany’s federal government in early May approved a bill that, if adopted in July, will become effective in August and protect energy-intensive industries from increases in a levy to promote renewables under the 2008 Renewable Energy Act (EEG). The EEG surged to €0.0624/kWh in 2014—a 20% increase that represents nearly a fifth of residential electricity bills. Eligible companies will be defined by guidelines set by the European Union. They will pay 15% of the EEG fee, though payment is limited to 4% of the gross added value of the company (limited to 0.5% for energy-intensive consumers such as steel or aluminum plants).
Mexico’s Energy Reform Efforts Inch Forward. Mexico’s efforts to pass secondary legislation to finalize its energy reform are grinding ahead slowly, and experts say final passage of the bills could occur before the end of June. The country’s federal congress and a majority of state congresses in December passed the much-awaited constitutional energy reform, which could spark increased private participation in power projects, lower electricity prices, and transform the profile of the country’s ossified, state-dominated power sector.
Turkey Point Reactors Get Florida State OK. Florida’s state authorities have granted Florida Power and Light (FPL) approval to advance development of two planned AP1000 units at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, which already has two 1970s-built reactors. FPL submitted a construction and operating license application for the new Units 6 and 7 to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009, but it is still awaiting approval. In 2011, the Florida Public Service Commission allowed FPL to recover costs for the nuclear investment via customer charges.
Westinghouse to Fuel Three Vattenfall Reactors. Westinghouse Electric Co. was selected in May by Vattenfall Nuclear AB in Sweden to provide replacement nuclear fuel deliveries and related engineering services for three reactors: Forsmark 3, Ringhals 3 and Ringhals 4. The contract includes yearly deliveries of fuel for the three reactors during a four-year period (2016 to 2019). Westinghouse will produce the fuel at its facility in Västerås, Sweden. ■
—Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)