Energy lunacy this time

If a category called “Chilean Lunacy” existed, I would post there, quite often, and the following would fit there.

The Chilean government is considering a project to export solar energy to Asia via a transpacific power cable. The idea is that it will supplement Asian nighttime energy demand while sun is shining in the western hemisphere.

As an exercise, open up Google Earth, and rotate the globe so that northern Chile is on the RHS of the screen. What do you see? Nothing except thousands of kilometres of ocean. The only land just barely visible is New Zealand, 12,000 km away.

Now consider that the world’s longest subsea power cable, still under construction, is the 760Km Viking Link, joining Norway and the UK, laid in the relatively shallow North Sea, at a cost of 2 Billion Euros.

So Chile is contemplating a hugely expensive power project with a cable 20 times the length of the longest one in use anywhere, laid in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. What could go wrong?

I detect heavy lobbying by Chinese interests, who would love to cover the whole of the Atacama Desert with panels. This sort of craziness occurs when a country is run by amateurs, lawyers and politicians whose grandiose ideas are only matched by the depths of their ignorance. Not that Europe or the US is any better

A typical example of Chilean technical illiteracy are the figures cited in that article:
"para que Chile exporte entre 200 mil y 600 mil MW"

Huh? that’s more than three times the daily consumption of France, which uses around 30 nuclear power stations to meet that demand. Hence the comment about covering the entire Atacama desert.

Chile would do much better to spend the money revamping its own crappy energy infrastructure. But maybe that idea is too prosaic to get the media attention that this proposal was designed to attract.

On a slightly technical note, the cable would require massive conductors, and would need to run at an abnormally high voltage to minimize power losses (in the MegaVolt range!) And withstand ocean pressures of 3000psi or more. Easy peasy?, no not really.

Probably connected to that article I posted on a couple of years ago for a proposal of a direct Internet cable connection to Asia.

Yeah, the difference is that internet fibre signals can be regenerated, either though in-cable repeaters or at landing points. Its much more feasible technically than pumping GigaWatts to China.
Power lost is lost forever.

Yep, when reading this news a couple of days ago I was about to post here, but fell short of proper words to express my reaction and to describe this… thingy.

Ja-ja, the forum soft auto-links to URLs, such a nice domain name!..

Yep and please clean Valparaiso streets. There was another cool project, to become world leaders in green hydrogen production.

On the K man’s platform :v:

This is for real, right. Not some wind up? I haven´t seen this on well known news sites.

It´s true that flat maps of the world don´t really convey the vastness of the pacific ocean. On a globe, it is seen to be almost half the earth.

One benefit to Chile is that energy security would become very high. On days of low production, they can simply export less. So Chile wouldn´t need to put as much spare capacity and energy storage into its own system. At a guess, the project would probably reduce the cost of electricity in Chile by about 10%.

There is a big problem with the timings, however. Peak solar generation in Chile will be 10am to 4pm. That is the middle of the night in China, Japan and most of Asia. People are asleep and electricity demand is low. Wind and nuclear power and whatever else is there can cover the overnight need in Asia, perhaps.

One interesting thing about this project is that it would help to fix a future problem where we will have lower solar production in winter, but higher electricity demand in winter when electric heating such as heat pumps becomes more common. This solves that by transferring summer sun into the other hemisphere´s winter. In the future electricity may command high prices in winter and low in summer for this reason. But still…people don´t use as much heating overnight while asleep…so it still doesn´t quite work.

If 1pm in Chile was 9pm in Japan and South Korea and East China this project would make more sense because that is when demand is high. But unfortunately it just isn´t.

If you´re still going to have to pay for energy storage as well after paying for the cables, wouldn´t it make more sense to put the solar panels in all that space in the West of China, or Mongolia?

For getting summer solar energy to the winter, Australia–>Asia could be more feasible than Chile–>Asia since their solar production is just as good and they are nearer. But still the timings aren´t right. More heating is used in the evening. So you still need to pay energy storage AND cables.

The UK is planning to get 8% of its energy from Morocco which would presumably be the biggest project of this type so far it comes to fruition. I wrote about this elsewhere:
An important difference of this project though is that they can run the cables near to the coasts of Morocco, Spain and France, completely avoiding deep ocean.

They estimate 10%-12% losses in transmission along the cable from Morocco to UK, which implies much higher losses for Pacific transmission presumably given the greater distance.

I’d guess what China is doing now is becoming the number one world’s creditor (gradually replacing the US, and they will eventually beat the US) – no matter how crazy any given project sounds in any other country that they are planning to finance and have interest in. They are smart folks.

I am beginning to wonder if the deterioration of Chile and especially it’s “independent” currency once a proxy for the price of copper is because certain interests up north are pissed that China has been the main trading partner for this supposed “neoliberal” developing country example for the world.

A personal theory - think about Chile vs. the rest of the neighbors with crashed currencies. Those with an interest in USD hegemony, the strategy would be to create reliance and debt in dollars like the rest of the continent. Who cares if they use the left (Sao Paulo forum-narcoterror/FARC/probably CIA funding-under commie/socialist cover) to achieve said objective!

Slightly off topic, but I was reminded of it because it is another lunatic project:

I spoke to the founder a few years ago when I was at my previous job. He was very excited about the project.

Yeah, its an idea borrowed from Gaddafi’s Libyan project.

The difference is that they had plenty of energy to do the pumping, and the oil revenues to build it. Chile doesn’t have either.

And of course, the long-term environmental effects of diverting Southern Chile’s water from its natural destination are unknown.

This is beyond insane. Chile is in no position to export energy. I still remember the huge problems we were having with the Bolivians and Argentinians back in the early 2000s. I believe we were trying to purchase gas from Argentina but Argentina would not sell it to us because it came from the Bolivians, and the agreement Bolivia had with Argentina was that they couldn’t sell it to us, or something along those lines.

Also, adding the “Chilean Lunacy” category :joy: