Perhaps the greatest barrier to Chile’s rapid ascension to the ranks of leading small global economies is a lack of domestic energy resources. Lingering rancour over the end of the War of the Pacific (1879-1883) means that the nationalist voice in Bolivia blocks any exports of gas to heat the homes of Santiago. Argentina has repeatedly proven to be an unreliable energy integration partner, frequently shutting of trans-Andean gas supplies to meet domestic demand. Hydro projects are being developed, but demand still outstrips supply, even with the implementation of green energy sources like wind and solar.
It is thus not too much of a surprise to hear that Chile is again looking at building a nuclear power plant. According to UPI, Chilean Energy Undersecretary Sergio del Campo flagged this as a real possibility at a recent Australian-Chile Chamber of Commerce meeting. Others in government suggested that a plan for nuclear power development will not be ready until the end of the Piñera presidency, possibly in late 2014. Critics are worried about the frequent seismic activity in Chile and what this might mean for the safety of a mooted plant. Expect a rush of interest from the big international nuclear power companies seeking another contract in what is currently a rather stalled industry.