The role of chilean mountain areas in time of drought and energy crisis: New pressures and challenges for vulnerable ecosystems
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In the summer of 2010/2011 Chile suffered the third most severe energy and water supply crisis in only one decade. This may be surprising as the Andes which accompany the country along 4,200 km are a water tower and could provide more electricity and water than needed. On top of that, it has to be mentioned that Chile also counts with sunny and windy climates and with excellent geothermal energy resources and thus has a huge potential as far as renewable energies are concerned. After analyzing the existing natural conditions, the infrastructure and the present challenges of climate change, it has to be asked in which way Chile can make use of this potential in the near future, considering the legal and political situation and the technological opportunities. It seems that the resources are still hidden in the Andes, and only the key is missing to realize the country’s natural potential. This research has been based on the analysis of existing literature, media, quantitative data from government institutions and other antecedents obtained by the authors in field work done in the South of Chile in 2010. The added value of this compilation lies in the comprehensive perspective, linking the knowledge of climatologists, hydrologists, mountain researchers and energy experts in order to support a sustainable energy and water supply for the future in Chile. From this present research, it can be concluded that Chile necessarily has to adopt new energy-related strategies, particularly those aimed at diminishing the strong dependence on traditional sources of energy and establishing new techniques and technologies for generating electricity and utilizing the vast potential that the country is ready to offer, such as that provided by the Andes along 4,200 kilometers.
KeywordsMountain region Andes Energy supply Chile
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