An economic boom would be considered a great thing in any country, but the people in Chile are divided about it, because larger needs mean more energy and more energy means more exploitation. With an 80% energy boost expected by 2025, the Chilean government favors hydroelectric power, going for a $3.2 billion HidroAysen project.
According to the latest statistics, 61% of Chileans don’t agree with the project, because it would destroy 5,900 hectares (14,000 miles) of Patagonian wilderness – unique forests, lakes and glaciers.
There has even been a coalition named the “Chilean Patagonia Without Dams” that was shaped in order to show that the project has shortcomings due to the bad evaluation. The coalition aims to demonstrate that there are other solutions, such as solar and/or wind energy.
The other half of the population, backed up by the government, the consortium of Chile’s Endesa and the Spanish firm Colbun SA doesn’t see any other way. Nuclear power being ruled out from the start, the government puts all its hopes in the construction of 5 hydroelectric power stations on a 1,600 km area.
Two of them are set to function on the Baker River and three on the Pascua River, all south of Santiago. A 50-year plan includes 2.75 GW of electricity, that is 20% more than what is presently produced in Chile. If the project is approved, then another $4 billion investment will be needed to cover 2,000 km (1,200 miles) of power cables and towers, not to mention another distinct environmental review.
Despite a demonstration being announced if the project is a go, President Sebastian Pinera argues in favor of it: he wants to avoid previous electricity rations and a possible dragging of the economic growth.