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Latin America Report: Environmental Concerns Surface

Many regions in Latin America are struggling to build thriving economies on top of an old energy infrastructure. That's why we're seeing such rapid advancement of wind projects, and why we'll likely see the same for solar a bit further down the road. Meanwhile, hydropower continues to expand its lead in the clean energy race.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Brazil, an economic power with serious issues related to its energy needs. There, the government is pushing renewables, mostly to great fanfare. But there’s an environmental issue brewing in many rural places across Latin America where giant projects are running up against local opposition.

One such case is the massive Belo Monte dam, which activists say would destroy forests, uproot villages and kill off certain species of fish. It’s become such a divisive issue that more than a million people have signed a petition calling for an immediate halt to what would become the world’s third largest dam.



Power Auction: In Brazil's latest power auction earlier this week — a process in which developers bid for contracts with the country's national electricity agency — more than 80 percent of contracts were for wind projects.

Brazilian Power Struggle: National Geographic takes a look at the vast energy challenges facing Brazil and the steps the nation is taking to meet and stabilize its growing demand.

Competition Keeps Costs Low: Brazilian power-distribution companies contracted 1,211.5 megawatts of new energy capacity to be brought online in 2016, mostly made up of wind-power projects, with some hydroelectric and biomass. The average price for all three types of energy was 102.18 Brazilian reais ($55.50) per megawatt-hour, the second-lowest price at a new energy auction since the current system began in 2004.

Wind Investment: Brazil's National Development Bank says it will put up close to $1 million to help finance the construction of 26 wind energy parks in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte. The new funds bring to 3.3 billion reals ($1.6 million) the bank's financing of wind energy projects this year.



Chile Wind Plan: Mainstream Renewable Power has received approval for a 240 MW wind farm near the Chilean city of Calama. In Chile, Mainstream has a package of 12 projects, including 643 MW of wind power and 325 MW of solar power.

A Race With the Sun: Powered by solar, innovative race teams descend the Atacama Desert in Chile for a grueling three-day, 620-mile journey.

Giant Hydro Planned in Mexico: Russian companies are ready to take part in a tender to build the La Parota hydropower plant in Mexico. The future plant's projected capacity is over 800 megawatts.

Solar Park in Peru: In another step toward urban visibility of renewable energy, Lima, Peru inaugurated its first eco park, which will feature solar illumination across its 1,000 square acres.



Moving In: Opel Solar joins a growing list of companies that are taking a more focused look at the Latin American market.

Hydro Outlook: A yearly U.S. Energy Information Administration takes a broad look at hydropower throughout Central and South America. Here’s a recap.

Energy on the Biggest Stage: From solar panels at soccer venues to sweeping energy efficiency initiatives, Brazil is aiming to make the 2014 World Cup the greenest ever.



Solar in 2012

“There will probably be some countries showing the first signs of reaching grid parity – it will make the situation in the market, probably by mid-next year much more attractive for markets that have not been demanding any solar installations so far. I’m specifically thinking of South America and countries like Mexico, Brazil or Chile.”
Arturo Herrero of Jinko Solar



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Dec. 7-14, 2011 Latin America Report: International Firms Chart Course Into Region
Nov. 30-Dec 7, 2011 Latin America Report: U.S. Bill Would Extend Tariff of Brazilian Ethanol
Nov. 23-30, 2011 Latin America Report: Ready for Explosive Growth

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