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Ex-minister: Government in Chile should change small hydro definition

Chile's government needs to reform existing classifications for run-of-river hydropower projects in order to achieve its target of 20 percent non-conventional renewable capacity by 2020, the country's former energy minister Ricardo Raineri told news services.

Current energy laws stipulate that hydropower projects over 20 MW in size do not qualify as non-conventional renewable, or NCRE, and executives from several leading energy companies operating in the country have called on the government to amend the regulation, Business News Americas reported.

Experts argue that the construction of smaller dams is the best way the government can reach its 20 percent by 2020 target. Run-of-river hydro, they claim, is both easier and cheaper than developing other NCRE sources such as wind, solar and geothermal projects.

In other news, construction of European power firm GDF Suez's 35-MW Laja run-of-river hydro plant in Chile's region VIII is on track, with the plant projected to come online in 2012, according to company officials.

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