Changes in the regulatory framework for ancillary services in Chile will enable companies to introduce various solutions for the power grid stability. By 2020, the percentage of non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE) supply is expected to reach 20%, up from 17% at the moment. National energy commission CNE expects new regulations to lead to new market players entering the market and more flexibility in the energy storage market.
One of the technologies that provides backup for plants when the renewable energy sources can’t generate power are battery-based energy storage systems. Their number is anticipated to increase significantly in the future. One of the companies that sees business opportunities provided by the new regulation is the Japanese IT company NEC which has several battery storage projects deployed in the north.
According to Herwig Ragossnig, NEC’s head of business development for smart energy in Latin America, “batteries can provide rapid frequency response and immediate energy back-up if the main system experiences a breakdown“. They also can reduce energy costs by allowing users to do peak shaving thus alleviating the main power grid in times of high demand.
Fluence, a new joint venture by Siemens and AES, has plans to enter the market with a hybrid natural gas and lithium-ion battery solution. According to Marcelo Merli, business development manager at the power & gas division of Siemens Chile, their hybrid solution will solve the intermittent supply issues experienced with renewable energies.
Another company that is exploring the opportunities brought up by the new regulation is Valhalla. It is a Chilean startup which has the ambition to build the first medium-sized pumped storage hydro plant that uses solar power in the country. According to Valhalla’s CEO Juan Andres Camus, Chile has unique geographical conditions for pumped storage hydro plants that can store seawater in natural surface concavities instead of dams, thus lowering the cost. By 2021 the project is expected to be completed, if it succeeds in receiving funding.