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Chile identifies $12 billion in green hydrogen projects


South American nation wants to be green hydrogen export hub

Government has set aside 12,000 hectares in Atacama desert

Investors are lining up projects worth up to $12 billion to tap Chile's potential to produce green hydrogen, the country's economic development agency CORFO has reported.

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Following a Request for Information launched last October, the agency received information on eighteen different projects involving green hydrogen.

They include initiatives to produce ammonia, methanol, synthetic fuels from green hydrogen as well as plans for hydrogen to generate heat or substitute fossil fuels.

"We want to accelerate the development of green hydrogen in our country and this RFI, together with many other initiatives we are undertaking in the sector, is key to outline the map of interests of the private sector," said CORFO CEO Pablo Terrazas in a statement.

With unmatchable renewable resources, particularly solar and wind, Chile is positioning itself to become a major player in the nascent green hydrogen market.

Last October, the government outlined ambitious targets to become the world's lowest-cost producer by the end of the decade with at least 25 GW of hydrolysis capacity. By 2025, the government aims to have at least 5,000 GW in development or operation.

A spokeswoman for CORFO told Platts that eleven of the eighteen projects were related to the production of green hydrogen or the use of hydrogen as a fuel or to generate heat.

CORFO said that many of the projects are located in northern Chile, home to the Atacama, the world's driest and sunniest desert. The government is setting aside around 12,000 hectares of state lands for hydrogen projects.

The government hopes that investment in green hydrogen will play a key role in helping Chile recover from the slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The economy is estimated to have contracted by around 6% in 2020 while more than a million people were put out of work, according to data from the government and the Central Bank of Chile.

CORFO said that RFI will also help the government identify potential beneficiaries of proposed subsidies for early-stage hydrogen projects. The agency now plans to launch a Request for Proposals to gather more information about the project and their need for public support.