As China announces measures to incorporate hydrogen-fueled vehicles to complement a growing number of electric cars, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera is interested in the technology’s long-term potential.

Speaking at the Encuentro de Energía Eléctrica event in Santiago, Piñera (in photo) said Chinese President Xi Jinping told him in April the communist-ruled country was preparing a “radical change” to its electromobility program. The change involves a migration from electric car subsidies towards hydrogen-powered vehicles.

“This is a change we have to look at closely,” Piñera said. “[Large-scale hydrogen mobility] probably won’t happen in the next few years, and a move towards electric cars in the next 12 years makes sense.” But a government cannot look consider the next decade, he said, suggesting Chile should take a serious look at hydrogen technology further down the line.

BNamericas recently reported on hydrogen’s potential in the Chilean market. The two experts consulted agreed that the biggest barrier to greater adoption of the technology is cost. Once hydrogen prices can get close to parity with diesel, the experts said, hydrogen’s true potential could be unlocked.

Piñera also said he was in talks with Argentine President Mauricio Macri about the possibility of a new energy exchange deal, something Chilean officials have suggested before. Under the deal, Argentina would guarantee a non-interruptible supply of natural gas. He also added Chile wants to increase gas imports from Argentina from 40Mbtu to 70Mbtu per day.

Piñera confirmed his administration’s goals include quadrupling the number of generators connected directly to the grid, and multiplying by ten the number of electric vehicles in the country.

He added the energy ministry is advancing talks to increase international interconnection with neighboring countries, especially Peru.

Juan Carlos Jobet, Chile’s recently sworn in energy minister, was expected to speak at the event but in the end did not.

www.bnamericas.com

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