Chile - Direct Uses




bathing and swimming



heat pumps





Total thermal installed capacity in MWt


Direct use in TJ/year


Direct use in GWh/year


Capacity factor



Country Update: The Chilean Government is trying to promote the development on non-conventional energy sources (wind, solar and geothermal). Over 70 geothermal exploration concessions have been awarded by the Chilean Government to private companies, and exploration drilling has been conduction in at least nine of these areas. At two of these geothermal systems, Apacheta and Tolhuaca, the results of environmental impact studies have been submitted in advance of possible plans to develop these fields for geothermal power production. However, in Chile, geothermal resources have been traditionally used for recreational and touristic purposes. Direct-use in spas and swimming pools accounts for an installed capacity of 11.31 MWt with an annual energy use of 152.12 TJ/yr (assuming a 46% capacity factor). These values do not include about seven additional private thermal baths and hotels from which quantitative information is not available. For these, a rough estimate of capacity is 2.20 MWt and annual energy use of 27.30 TJ/yr (by J. Lund).

In most cases, the thermal waters are collected from natural hot springs and piped to buildings and pools; only four spas have shallow wells that were drilled to extract geothermal water. The use of heat pumps in Chile began in 1996 when 51 units were installed in the southern part of the country. Approximately 70% of them are closed-loop (ground-coupled), and the rest are openloop (water-source) systems. The installed heat pump capacity is 8.6 MWt and energy use of 34 TJ/yr, approximately 83% of the units are installed in commercial, industrial and institutional buildings; with only 17% in houses and apartments. The total geothermal direct-use for the country is then 19.91 MWt and 186.12 TJ/yr (Lahsen, et al., 2015).

Taken from: John W. Lund and Tonya L. Boyd
Published in Direct Utilization of Geothermal Energy 2015 Worldwide Review

Total thermal installed capacity in MWt:9.11
Direct use in TJ/year131.82
Direct use in GWh/year36.6
Capacity factor0.46

Geothermal energy in the country has been only utilized for recreational purposes. Current use in spa and swimming pools accounts for all the capacity. However, there are many private thermal spas and resorts in the geothermal area, for which quantitative information regarding their use of geothermal resources is not available. In some spas, shallow wells have been drilled to obtain hot water, while in others hot water is collected rudimentary and piped to the buildings pools, through shallow drains and plastic hoses.

A total of 20 bathing and swimming sites have been identified amounting to 9.11 MWt and 131.82 TJ/yr. 

Taken from the paper by John W. Lund, Derek H. Freeston, and Tonya L. Boyd: "Direct Utilization of Geothermal Energy 2010 Worldwide Review"; published in Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010