08.04.2016

Largest net billing solar system inaugurated – other tenders to follow

Solar system on a roofThe rooftop of the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) in Santiago de Chile is now being used to generate clean power for exhibits and performances. The Chilean Energy Minister inaugurated the 100 kilowatt system on 17 March as part of the solar roof programme 'Techos Solares Públicos'. The system is currently the largest photovoltaic installation that falls under Chile's self-supply law. In the first half of 2016 there are plans to issue international tenders for the construction of 60-70 more solar systems on public buildings in Chile generating around two megawatts of power in total.

The programme's design and implementation is supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is providing strategic support for the solar roof programme and operational implementation on site. The programme to promote public solar roof systems in Chile is initially scheduled to run until 2018. GIZ advisor Matthias Grandel views self-supply as the Chilean Government's next logical step to drive forward the energy transformation. 'Prices for roof systems have also dropped sharply and promise great potential for expansion – the net costs of the 100 kilowatt system on the GAM building are only USD 1.33 per Wp.'

Installation of a solar systemAccording to Chilean incentive policies, electricity customers are paid the wholesale price for electricity they feed into the grid from photovoltaic systems. For private electricity customers this means net billing, while for commercial or industrial buyers it is comparable to net metering. These incentives apply to systems with a capacity up to 100 kW. According to the Chilean electricity market authority (Energy Superintendence - SEC), 122 systems with a total generating capacity of 1.76 megawatts were installed by mid-February 2015 in accordance with Chile's self supply law.

The cultural centre GAM has a rich history and is symbolic for the process of democratisation in Chile. The striking building in the heart of Santiago was built at the beginning of the 1970s under socialist president Salvador Allende. Following the military coup in 1973 it was the seat of government for the military junta under Augusto Pinochet. Since 2010, the completely renovated building with 22,000 square meters of floor space has been home to the largest cultural centre in the country.

The Chilean Energy Ministry is implementing the government's solar roof programme 'Techos Solares Públicos', which promotes the construction of up to 300 photovoltaic systems on public buildings in Chile. The Ministry is supporting this initiative with more than USD 13 million until 2018.