Chile is giving away its surplus solar energy for free

chile solar energy here  s how many panels we d need to provide power for the entire planet
Pedrosala / Shutterstock
Chile has become a prime example of why solar energy can be a blessing and a curse; good for consumers but bad for many businesses in the energy industry. This year, the price for electricity in some parts of Chile fell to zero on 113 days between January 1 and April 30, reports Bloomberg, and that puts the South American country on a path to surpass last year’s 192 days of zero-priced power.

Chile has invested heavily in solar power. 15 solar farms are slated to be built, adding to the 29 farms that supply electricity to Chile’s central grid. Even more solar farms have been developed in the north, which is on a separate grid. Though these projects were initially spurred by economic growth and an uptick in mining operations, growth has begun to slow, mining production has idled, and power plants are now oversupplying energy to places that lack the infrastructure to manage it. Since the north and central grids don’t connect with each other, they can’t transmit electricity when one has a surplus and the other has a deficit. These surpluses can drive energy prices down dramatically — to the point that Chile gives its electricity away for free in the northern parts of the central grid.

Chile’s Energy Minister, Maximo Pacheo, admitted that much of the country’s trouble came from rapid expansion and inadequate infrastructure. “Chile has at least seven or eight points in the transmission lines that are collapsed and blocked, and we have an enormous challenge to bypass the choke points,” he said. “When you embark on a path of growth and development like the one we’ve had, you obviously can see issues arising.”

There’s hope though. By next year, the Chilean government intends to lay a 1,865-mile transmission line that will connect the north and central grid, enabling it to transfer excess electricity. Still, the surplus and subsequently cheap (or free) electricity is bad for business, and may make it difficult for future projects to earn funding.

Emerging Tech

Bill Nye the Science Guy talks “solar sailing” and the new space race

If successful, The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 will be a milestone in spaceflight, the first craft to raise its orbit around the planet using just the power of sunlight.
Mobile

A library at your fingertips: The best free Kindle books

Reading shouldn't be an expensive hobby. Here, we've put together a list of some of the better free offerings currently available for Kindle devices, so you don't have to sort through thousands of titles on Amazon and Google Play.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Smart Home

Laundry taking forever? Dry your clothes faster with the best dryers of 2019

Dryers may be the afterthought when it comes to buying a laundry pair, but the best dryers should have key features that you want in your new appliance, whether it's sanitizing or energy efficiency.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX is on a hiring spree for its Starlink global internet project

After a string of delays, SpaceX's Starlink project was finally launched last month. Now an analysis of data from SpaceX's job listings shows the company is on a hiring tear, advertising for more and more positions for the project.
Emerging Tech

Ready to roll: Mars 2020 rover fitted with wheels ahead of mission next year

The Mars 2020 rover is getting ready for its trip to the red planet next year. The latest step in readying the rover is installing its wheels and suspension system, which engineers at NASA have been doing this month.
Emerging Tech

Want to work in the stars? Here are six future space jobs you could hold

Ever dreamed of leaving Earth to work in the stars? Here's a list of job titles that might sound like science fiction now, but almost certainly won’t a decade or two in the future.
Emerging Tech

You can help search for aliens with an open access release of SETI data

The Breakthrough Initiatives, a program to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, recently analyzed its first three years of radio telescope data. And all of the data collected is being made publicly available in an open data archive.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The U.K.’s biggest (and only) asteroid mining company has designs on our skies

Is the founder and CEO of the U.K.'s Asteroid Mining Corporation going to be among the first people to strike it rich in space, or is he just chasing an ambitious but doomed mirage?
Emerging Tech

Tiny galaxy has huge black hole at its center, gives clues to galactic evolution

A Hubble image shows a tiny galaxy which could hold the clue to unraveling a longstanding question about the evolution of galaxies. Despite its small size, it hosts a feature found in much larger galaxies -- a supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Dark matter galaxy crashed into the Milky Way, causing the ripples in its disk

New research suggests hundreds of million of years ago, the Milky Way collided with Antlia 2, a nearby dwarf galaxy dominated by dark matter. The collision caused ripples in the disk of gas around the Milky Way which we still observe today.
Emerging Tech

Uranus’ rings shine brightly but hold a puzzle for astronomers

New images reveal the rings around Uranus, which are almost invisible to most telescopes. But there's a strange puzzle about them -- why they don't contain any small dust-sized particles.
Emerging Tech

U.S. Navy is working on making its fleet invisible to computerized surveillance

The U.S. Navy’s ever-innovative Office of Naval Research is working on a way to turn the United States military fleet invisible. Well, to cutting-edge image-recognition systems, at least.