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Annex 5: Information Platforms

One of the pillars of the Program of Support to the Development of the NCREs carried out by the Ministry of Energy is the generation of public information on the natural resources present in Chile, which will guide, through an up-to-date background both to its development policy and to potential investors.

In this context, the Ministry maintains stable measurement campaigns for wind and solar resources in the north of the country. In addition, it has implemented information platforms that allow the indirect evaluation of these resources by means of modeling tools, databases, territorial information and updated cadaster of the resources present in the country. Finally, information resources available for the estimation of water generation, through biomass and using sea energies are also presented in this section.

This program of measurement of renewable resources began in 2006 with the National Energy Commission and then in 2010 with the Ministry of Energy. The objective of the campaign is to have a wind and solar energy survey to better understand the characteristics of these resources. As of January 2018, the Ministry of Energy maintains more than 80 stations for solar and wind radiation measurements. The data associated with each of these stations are open to the public (see Figure 10).

The results of the measurements have confirmed that the Atacama Desert has one of the largest solar potential in the world, exceeding solar radiation levels of more than 30% in areas of Spain with high presence of generation projects solar. Horizontal global radiation is around 7 kWh / m² per day at most stations, or 2,600 kWh / m2 per year, and normal direct solar radiation (DNI)[11] exceeds 3,000 kWh / m2 per year.

The Ministry of Energy has promoted the application of numerical modeling tools for the atmosphere for purposes of characterizing the potential of NCRE in Chile. These efforts, which continue today, have enabled the development of interactive tools that provide an indirect assessment of the wind and solar resources in most of the country. Among them are the Wind Energy Explorer and the Solar Energy Explorer, which are available and publicly accessible through website of the Ministry[12].

Notwithstanding the usefulness of these tools for the identification and evaluation of potential areas for NCRE projects, their results should be considered only as preliminary and indicative, and they do not replace the on-site monitoring of the meteorological parameters necessary for the feasibility evaluation of this of type of projects.

The Wind Energy Explorer presented in Figure 11 summarizes the wind data obtained from atmospheric behavior simulations developed using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)[13] model, which is fed with results from global models. The simulations cover the area between the northern border of the country and the Magallanes Region, including Easter Island, each with a horizontal spatial resolution of 1 km and 41 vertical levels, of which 12 are within the first 200 meters above ground level, useful range for the evaluation of wind power projects. The latter has a variable spacing between 5 and 34 meters above the level of the earth’s surface. The simulated period includes the 12 months of the year 2010. However, due to the absence of wind records of adequate quality and public access, it has not been possible to evaluate them in all the areas covered by the modeling, where this has been possible. Results of the model have shown a good correspondence with the measurements. The results have been validated with wind observations at more than 350 sites throughout the country.

Among the capabilities offered by the Wind Energy Explorer based on the results of the WRF simulations are the representation of the diurnal and seasonal variability of the wind (maps and graphs), the visualization of wind fields in various periods of time and levels over the soil, production estimation for hundreds of types of wind turbines and the extraction in text files of wind time series and simulated wind generation. In addition, it has a tool for the reconstruction of series of winds of daily resolution for a period of 31 years, of interest for the estimation of variability on a year-on-year basis. This climatic reconstruction is based on a statistical analysis of the data modeled by WRF for the period 2010 and the results of analysis of global models for the study period.

On the other hand, the Solar Energy Explorer presented in Figure 12 summarizes the results of the estimation of solar radiation in most of Chile, obtained from a methodology that uses information from satellites that regularly cover the country combined with the modeling of the processes in which the solar radiation is modified as it passes through the atmosphere. To do this, solar radiation is calculated on the surface with clear sky from a radiative transfer model, to be adjusted later by interaction with the different types of clouds, whose characteristics are estimated from images of the geostationary satellite GOES West, through an empirical model based on the network of local observations of surface radiation.

Along with other information, the Solar Energy Explorer offers maps of the monthly average of horizontal global radiation. The data are generated from atmospheric models and satellite data for the period between 2004 and 2015, with a spatial resolution of 90 meters. The tool allows to generate reports on selected sites that include the characterization of the daily and seasonal cycles of global horizontal radiation and observed cloudiness and of course obtain the data series in plain text files.

The Ministry of Energy from 2014, and in compliance with the commitments made in the Energy Agenda, has implemented the Exploration of Non-Consumption Water Use Rights (DAANC), with the purpose of maintaining and operating an information platform updated and georeferenced information on the rights of use of non-consumptive waters granted for use in hydroelectricity in the SIC priority basins.

This public information tool allows identifying and characterizing zones in the early stages and prospective for hydroelectric initiatives, along with the spatial visualization of water rights, holders of water rights, historical information, hydroelectric capacity installed in electric systems, among others . This platform is available on the website of the Ministry[14].

One of the most important applications of this platform is the annual update of the hydroelectric potential at the country level, whose methodology is based on the information provided by non-consumptive rights constituted, as they represent the volume of water that is legally available for hydroelectric development. The calculation methodology is explained in detail on the application web page (Figure 13)

The CONAF Territorial Information System (See Figure 14) allows you to consult on-line information on vegetation cadaster updates. In this way, this tool presents the most complete national map of reference information on the potential of forest biomass in Chile. Through this tool you can review interactive maps for each region, analyze different layers (roads, hydrography, water bodies, wilderness areas, agricultural land, meadows and shrublands, native forest, wetlands, non-vegetation areas and a categorization layer of land use), perform operations such as measuring distances, areas and download cartographic covers. The tool also allows access to a catalog of satellite images that can provide additional information to maps already generated in the system.

The marine exploration (See Figure 15) is a tool that allows to visualize and obtain information on Chile’s marine energy resource. This information is generated from numerical simulations covering the maritime territory from Arica to the extreme south of the country. The simulations were performed using the Wave Watch III model with a resolution of 1 km. The height, direction and wave period for a full year (2010) were simulated and the results validated with observations throughout the country.

The tool allows to generate a report for each location designated by the user who presents the basic wave statistic for each month (significant height corresponding to the average height of the third of the highest waves in a set of waves, the average period which corresponds to the average time interval between two waves, the energy power per square meter and the average propagation direction). It also presents the frequency distribution of significant wave height, the time series plot of significant height and power for each month, the interannual variability of height and power and the direction rose of wave propagation for the full year. Finally the tool allows to download the complete numerical series of the data in format of plain text to carry out own analyzes.