A study commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reports that Chile is in a position to tap vast amounts of renewable energy resources for the future
Carried out by consulting firm Ricardo, the Electrofuels for shipping study looked at how synthetic fuels derived from renewable energy could be used in decarbonising international shipping with a specific focus on the role Chile could play.
The study concluded that a Chilean expansion into renewable energy would help meet IMO’s emission goals for 2050. Using a hypothetical scenario, the study said that supplying clean electrofuels for all ships departing Chile’s ports could unlock anywhere between US$65Bn-90Bn worth of investment in clean infrastructure.
"The report shows that Chile has huge potential to decarbonise not only the shipping sector but its whole economy and implementing zero-carbon marine fuels can be a driving force. This would also help to increase the country’s energy security and minimise its reliance on fossil fuel imports," Ricardo Energy team principal consultant Nick Ash said.
Using renewable energy, hydrogen can be produced in electrolysers by separating hydrogen atoms from water. This ‘green’ hydrogen can then either be used as a fuel directly or processed further to produce green ammonia or carbon-based fuels like methanol.
Electrofuels use electricity to power a mechanism that turns CO2 from the air into longer molecules that can serve as fuel.
Such carbon neutral e-fuels offer a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. However there are huge engineering challenges and the technology is still nascent.
Chile is heavily reliant on shipping for international trade and domestic transportation, and its size offers favourable locations to set renewable infrastructure and fuel plants close to main ports and shipping routes. The study cited favourable factors including that Chile has one of the largest renewable energy capacities in the world – with about 1,200 GW in solar potential alone. Other attributes include Chile’s large coastline and relative political stablity.