Chile's future lies in sustainable energy

The future of Chile's energy sector lies in the balanced development of renewable energy, said Enel CEO Francesco Starace during a panel discussion at the conference The Crossroads of Civilization 21st Century, which was held in Santiago between 14-17 January and promoted by the Chilean Senate's Comisión de Futuro (Future Development Commission).

The summit was attended by former Chilean President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco, French economist Thomas Piketty and sociologist and economist Jeremy Rifkin, among others.

The Enel CEO was among the speakers at a session entitled, The Challenges of Energy Enterprises for the 21st Century. In his speech, Starace stressed the importance of adopting an energy strategy that optimises the country's abundant natural resources in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way that respects local communities. This is possible thanks to innovative technologies used both in power generation and distribution and the business' interaction with customers.

'The future is now. Certain things are happening and a country like Chile is very lucky not because it has oil or gas, but because it's very rich in natural resources such as sun, wind and water, and it has a government that understands the importance of focusing on these resources,' explained Starace.

'Chile could be one of the country's furthest along the process of technological change,' he added. 'This is the reason why the Enel Group is interested in following it closely. Its impact in terms of energy transition will be very significant.'

Starace focused on the energy challenges that the entire world, and Chile in particular, will have to face in the coming decades. According to the CEO of Enel, which controls Enersis (Chile's leading electricity producer), the country has great potential for renewable energy development, beginning with from hydropower. However he stressed that a change of perspective is necessary in order to develop projects that make the most of these resources while also take into account possible effects on the local environment. To do this there needs to be the involvement and communication with local communities.

Starace said that in order to ensure satisfactory energy production in Chile in the medium- to-long-term, it's not the development of large projects that will be necessary, but technologies that can balance different sustainable resources. This means not only hydropower, but also geothermal, solar power and wind power.

Frei offered analysis of the current energy situation in Chile, stressing that hydropower is one of the areas that should be focused on. Pacheco meanwhile expressed his conviction that everyone needs to play their part in the energy battle, be they from the world of politics, economics or institutions, because it's one of the cornerstones of the country's development, as a tool with which both to take on inequality and to aid a diversified and sustainable growth.