Chile’s dramatically varied geography provides a wealth of opportunities for renewable power. In the north, for example, the Atacama Desert offers some of the world’s best solar energy potential. Nevertheless, when Energy Minister Máximo Pacheco came into office in 2014, Chile’s energy prices were among the highest on the continent. The country was saddled with a power industry dependent on imported coal. Cities were clogged with smog from widespread use of firewood to heat houses. Any new energy initiatives routinely faced major citizen protests and legal challenges. Against this backdrop, Pacheco announced Energía 2050. It was an ambitious agenda intended to rally a broad spectrum of the country behind a participatory long-term planning process to make Chile’s energy cleaner, cheaper, and universally accessible.
CBI’s Santiago-based Latin America office helped design and guide this ambitious participatory process. Working with a team of technical and academic experts, CBI helped to formulate a process that combined more than 100 public workshops and meetings on key issues with a high-level steering committee. In addition to running many of the public meetings, CBI facilitated the yearlong deliberation of the 28-member, multi-stakeholder steering committee empowered to draft an Energy Road Map to 2050.
Through dialogue and shared analysis of technical information, the steering committee produced a consensus document with a vision, goals, and strategies for the short-, medium-, and long-term. The Energy Ministry then transformed the Road Map into the country’s new long-term energy policy, promulgated by the President, Michelle Bachelet, in December 2015. By integrating core interests of government, business, civil society leaders, and citizens throughout the country in participatory policy development, Energía 2050 created a shared roadmap for an energy revolution—a revolution that led the Washington Post to declare Chile “A Solar Saudi Arabia.”