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Latin America Report: Critics Urge More Solar, Wind, Geothermal in Chile

Chile is built for renewable energy. The seemingly unending coastline that runs the length of its boundary is prime real estate for wind development, and eventually the offshore wind projects, that could power the cities found along its spine. The nation's solar resources, especially in the northern regions, are among the best in the world. And its place along the ring of fire means its geothermal potential is vast, yet untapped.

It’s with these resources in mind that some are questioning the nation’s energy plan, which will focus on an increase in hydropower from its current 35 percent of the energy mix to 50 percent. While the increase may be necessary to combat the supply volatility of imported natural gas, others argue that it is putting too much of an emphasis on hydropower, which itself can go through supply constraints during periods of drought.

More than anything, critics are wondering why the nation isn’t moving more aggressively toward the renewable sources it has had all along. One positive development this week for those backing renewable energy efforts in the nation was the announcement that the 115-MW wind development 400 miles north of Santiago was ready to begin construction.


IN THE NEWS

 

$30 Million Approved for Energy Fund: The Inter-American Development bank has approved a $30 million loan to boost renewable energies and clean technologies in Latin America and the Caribbean, where energy demand is expected to grow by 75 percent by 2030

Wind Farm Online in Mexico: Iberdrola has commissioned the 102-MW La Venta III wind farm in Mexico, making it the company's third project in the country.

Suzlon Wins 24 MW Order: Suzlon Group in Brazil has bagged 24-MW order from Brazil's energy and engineering major Servtec Group for 12 units of Suzlon S95 turbine as a part of the wind power project to be set up in the state of Ceara, according to a release filed with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

Four Brazil Wind Projects Purchased: CPFL Energias Renovaveis SA will buy four Brazilian wind-power projects to take advantage of lower turbine costs. The projects, with a combined capacity of 120 MW, are owned by local developer Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios SA.

Chile Rejects Biomass Project: Chile's environmental authorities on Friday rejected a proposal by local firm FibroAndes for the construction of a 35-MW thermoelectric power plant (TPP) in the Pichidegua municipality. The plant, dubbed Tagua Tagua, was to be fuelled with a type of biomass containing dry wood shavings and chicken manure.


 

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Helping Virgin Islands Cut Fuel Use Through Renewables: The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory is leading an effort to bring renewable energy solutions to the U.S. Virgin Islands, whose residents pay electricity bills four to five times higher than average rates in America.

The Solar Gas Pedal: The Atacama Solar Race took off in Santiago this week, featuring teams and cars from across South America.


 

BY THE NUMBERS

Solar in Mexico

60: Percentage that Mexico’s average solar insolation exceeds that of Germany, which leads the world in installed capacity.
5: Kilowatt-hours per meter squared per day, a figure that compares Mexico’s solar insolation favorably with that of Southern California.
0.06: Amount of Mexico’s landmass that would be needed to provide solar electricity to the entire country, based on 2005 energy requirements.


 

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Jan, 4-11, 2011 Latin America Report: Mixed Messages on Wind
Dec. 28-Jan. 4, 2011 Latin America Report: U.S. Solar Company Looks to Mexico and Beyond
Dec. 14-21, 2011 Latin America Report: Environmental Concerns Surface
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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