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Latin America Report: Ready for Explosive Growth

As the costs associated with renewable forms of energy continue to drop and the prices of fossil fuels remain volatile, more Latin American nations are turning to wind and solar, as well as geothermal and biofuels, as solutions to achieve energy security.

Hydropower has long been a staple in many Latin American countries and Brazil has become a world leader in biofuel production. Now, we’re seeing the price of wind energy become competitive with other sources, especially in Brazil, the region’s driving economic force. The next step could be solar as international developers work to tap some of the world’s best resources.

With this rapid growth in mind, we are launching our weekly Latin America Report, which will pull together the news and issues most important to the region. Modeled after our weekly Asia Report, the Latin America Report will appear at RenewableEnergyWorld.com every Wednesday.

As always, we value those who can offer a critical analysis of developments in the region. If you are interested in becoming a source or a contributor with a focus on renewable energy in Latin America, please contact us at editor@renewableenergyworld.com.


IN THE NEWS

Chilean Wind PPA: Pattern Energy has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with a Chilean mining company for the sale of electricity produced by a 115-MW wind farm along the coast 400 miles north of Santiago. Construction is scheduled to start in 2012 with commercial operation to begin in late 2013. The project would represent the country’s largest wind development.

396 MW Wind Farm in Mexico: The Inter-American Development Bank has approved a $72 million loan for the construction of a wind farm in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The 396-MW project would be Mexico’s largest wind power plant and one of the biggest in Latin America.

U.S., Brazil Biofuel Trade: Brazil, which has imported 500 million liters of ethanol from the U.S. since 2010, will become a net importer of U.S. corn-based ethanol as high sugar costs create a shortage of the biofuel in the South American country.

Peru Names Firms To Build Two Projects: A consortium of Italy's Astaldi SpA and GyM-Grana y Montero S.A. of Peru has received contracts to construct the 510-MW Cerro del Aguila and 98-MW Santa Teresa hydroelectric projects in Peru.

A Success for Two Nations: Bolivia is moving ahead with its first large-scale wind installation while Nicaragua reports that its wind projects have helped keep electricity prices down as the two nations move to install more wind capacity.


ON THE HORIZON

Brazil’s Wind Future: According to a Greenpeace official in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s expansion into wind power is so aggressive that wind farms could very well overtake natural gas thermal plants as the country's second-largest power generation source in five years, moving right behind the number one source — hydroelectric power.

Geothermal’s Potential: According to research by NRG, new exploration concessions have been awarded in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru, which could lead to high rates of growth in geothermal power development.

Pilot Solar Project in Brazil: Brazilian power utility firm La Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais S.A. will begin construction of a 3-MW pilot solar photovoltaic plant in Sete Lagoas, Minas Gerais, in January. The 40 million reais ($22.46 million) project is expected to begin commercial operation in May.


AREA OF INVESTMENT

Bank Investing in Clean Energy: The Nordic Investment Bank is lending $50 million to a unit of the Inter-American Development Bank to help finance environmental projects in Latin America. At least 70 percent of the loan will be dedicated to renewable energy generation projects, including hydropower, wind power, certain types of biomass projects.

The Winds of Investment: Renewable energy developer Bioenergy says it may pursue an initial public offering next year to fund $920 million of wind farms it’s developing in northeastern Brazil. The company is seeking to sign contracts to sell power from as many as 16 wind farms in the state of Maranhao by the end of the year.

Loan for Wind Projects: The Inter-America Development Bank will move ahead on a $150 million loan to Argentina’s Impsa to help support 546-MW of wind projects, including three in Brazil and one in Uruguay.               


BY THE NUMBERS

World Energy Outlook 2011

90 percent: Share of energy demand growth from non-OECD countries from 2010 to 2035. Brazil’s rate of growth during this period is expected to exceed even that of China.

68 million: Barrels per day of conventional crude oil that will be produced globally by 2035. Brazil is projected to be among the countries with the largest increase in production.

15 percent: Contribution of hydropower to world energy mix by 2035. China, India and Brazil will account for almost half of the 680 gigawatts of new capacity.

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