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Latin America Report: Thinking Big About Clean Energy and Climate Change

Virtually eliminating the carbon footprint from Latin America's power sector by 2050 would require $66 billion in annual investments, with spending on renewable energy making up half that amount, according to a new report analyzing full "climate stabilization" in the region.

The study, initially presented at last year's Rio+20 meeting, is a joint effort of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the World Wide Fund.

Starting with the assumption that Latin America's geography, population distribution, infrastructure, and reliance on natural resources (agriculture, biodiversity, and water availability) make it particularly vulnerable to climate change, the study projects what it calls a "conservative" calculation of $100 billion in yearly economic damages by 2050 attributed to climate change. The region's emissions profile basically is the opposite of the global profile, with most emissions stemming from land use and transportation and 25-30 percent from energy/power generation.

The path back to climate stability — defined as 2 tons per capita of CO2 emissions in 2050 — lies mainly with aggressive land-use adjustments, including "widespread electrification of the transport sector," but also rethinking the region's energy pathways with lofty goals of vastly reduced energy demand (40 percent), ratcheting to 60-80 percent of primary energy mix from renewables, and 75-100 percent of electricity from low-carbon sources. Think those numbers are outrageous? The study says the "business-as-usual" scenario would require an additional $464 billion in financial expenditures annually by 2050 just to meet the region's projected rising energy demand.

"Arresting and reversing the current carbonization path of the regional power matrix by 2050 would imply a major shift toward rapid deployment of the substantial renewable energy endowment in the region," the report authors say. "The implication is that for less than $100 billion annually in 2050 (or less than $2 trillion cumulatively) in incremental, or 'net,' additional financial requirements, the region could reduce its emissions from its projected level in 2050 [...] to a level consistent with defending the 2°C guardrail."


Uruguay Seeks 200 MW of Solar Energy: As promised earlier this year, Uruguay has issued a decree to provide for installation of 200 MW of solar energy involving $400 million of investments. The plan involves competitive tender for smaller (1-5 MW) projects, and fixed-price contracts for bigger projects (30-50 MW).

Gamesa Lands 150-MW Deal in Brazil: Gamesa will supply 75 of its G97-2.0 MW wind turbines at five 30-MW wind farms being built by Consórcio Morrinhos in Campo Formose in Bahia state. Installation will begin in 2H14 and be done in 1H15. The company has secured nearly a gigawatt of business in Brazil over the past two years.

Vestas Scores 110-MW Deal in Chile: Vestas says it has received "a firm and unconditional order" for 57 of its V100 turbines (a mix of 1.8-MW and 2.0-MW varieties) from Columbian utility Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) for its Los Cururos wind power plant in the Coquimbo region of Chile. Delivery is scheduled for 3Q13; the plant is slated to be commissioned in 3Q14 with estimated annual production of more than 290,000 MWh.

Enel Green Power Green-Lit for Chilean Wind Farm: Enel Green Power has won a public tender through the Chilean Ministry of National Assets to develop up to 130 MW of capacity spanning 4,800 hectares in Chile's Antofagasta region. The Sierra Gorda Este wind farm's load factor is expected to exceed 30 percent at maximum capacity. Summarizing the company's current Chilean footprint, it currently has 90 MW of grid-connected wind in the country (its Talinay plant in Coquimbo) and is building another 90-MW wind farm in Valle de los Vientos (region II of Antofagasta), with total domestic wind investments of around $300 million. The company also recently secured a $100 million five-year loan to help cover cost for its planned investments here over the next few years.

SunEdison, Foxconn Making PV Modules in Mexico: Under a new arrangement, SunEdison is contracting with Fox Energy, the solar PV subsidiary of Chinese tech manufacturing outsourcer Foxconn Technology, to make up to 350 MW of its Silvantis modules out of Juarez, Mexico. Rolando Pablos, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, expressed hope that this could be "the tipping point to our regional goal of becoming the solar energy development capital of North America."

Peruvian Geothermal JV Kicks Off: A joint venture between the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and Hot Rock Ltd. has officially commenced, with the transfer of exploration authorization for the Quellaapacheta project in Southern Peru into the JV, Geotermica Quellaapacheta Peru S.A.C. The project is exploring the Ticsani volcano in the Moquegua province in southern Peru, where the presence of chloride-rich water actively depositing silica sinter at low elevations and fumarolic activity at higher elevations indicates "a classic steep-terrain, high-temperature geothermal volcanic system" with a geothermal reservoir at depth, they say.

Brazilian Micro-Hydro Project Online: Brazil's Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletricqa (ANEEL) has given the go-ahead for commercial operation of the Cavernoso 2 micro-hydro plant. The project, owned by utility Companhia Paranaense de Energia Electrica (Copel) in the country's southern Parana state, includes three 6.3 MW turbines and will feed power to Virmond and Candoi.

Honda To Make Cars With Brazil's Wind: Honda says it will be the first automobile manufacturer in Brail to invest in wind power generation, with a proposed wind farm in Xangri-lá in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul. The nine-turbine, 27-MW proposal will generate approximately 85,000 MWh of electricity per year, matching the local operation's annual electricity needs for automobile production. Total investment in the wind farm is roughly 100 million Brazilian reais.

Renovalia, First Reserve Plan Mexican Wind Plants: The First Reserve Energy Infrastructure Fund (FREIF I) of First Reserve and Renovalia Energy are expanding their Renovalia Reserve joint venture with two wind power plants in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico. One of the projects is a 90-MW farm in operation for almost a year; the second is a 137.5-MW farm under construction and planned to be online in early 2014. The smaller has long-term financing in place, and both have 15-year PPAs with Grump Bimbo "and a world-leading retailer" with options to extend longer according to the company.

Saferay Eyes Chilean Solar Plant: German solar energy developer Saferay GmbH has applied for permits to build its planned $300 million, 135-MW solar PV plant in Chile's northern Atacama Desert. Work is expected to begin on the project later this fall, with the site ultimately producing 240 GWh of annual electricity for the Sistema Interconectado Central grid.

Solar PV in El Salvador: German development bank KfW will loan €39 million to Comisión del Río Lempa Hidroeléctrica (CEL) for what they call Central America's largest PV project announced to date: a 14-MW solar c-Si PV plant in El Salvador (90 km east of San Salvador), expected to be commissioned next year. Bandesal Development Bank and the Central American Development Bank (BCIE) will invest in the project. KfW and CEL finalized a loan last spring for a hydropower plant upgrade.

Alstom Adds Brazil Hydro Deal: Alstom Renewable Power has won a $130 million deal supply all electromechanical equipment for Energias do Brazil's 220-MW Cachoeira Caldeirao hydropower project on the Araguari River in Brazil's northern region, slated to connect to the grid in 2017.

SunEdison, Petrobras Handshake for Brazil PV Plant: SunEdison and Petrobras pledge to build a 1.1-MW (DC) installed capacity solar PV plant in Alto do Rodrigues, Rio Grande do Norte, with power going to the National Interconnected System (SIN). The project also will include a 10-kW "experimental platform" at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. It's expected to begin operations this year.


Brazil Pledges $1.5 Billion to Boost Renewable Energy: Brazil is laying out plans to provide 2.4 billion reais ($1.19 billion) in grants and loans through 2016 for renewable energy research projects, from transmission lines connecting remote hydro dams to silicon PV factories. Proposals for the "Inova Energia" program must be submitted by the end of July. The Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social and state agency Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos will provide about 400 million reais of grants for projects, with the rest coming from low-interest loans — 2.5 percent, less than half of Brazil's leading interest rate.

Ramping Up Brazil's Hydro Capacity: As Brazil ramps up preparations for two major international spotlight events — the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games — utility Furnas plans to increase its hydroelectric project investments by about 9 percent to $3.3 billion. The investments will primarily be applied to four projects (3.1-GW Santo Antonio, 1.85-GW Teles Pires, 3,340-MW Simplicio, and 52-MW Batalha) to increase the company's installed capacity to 17 GW.

Barbados Has Renewables in Its Sights: Barbados needs to "get a renewable energy policy going" starting with support from industrial and fiscal perspectives, according to recent comments made by the Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss. "We have no control over the pricing of fossil fuel [and] it impacts too much on everything we do in this society," he was quoted as saying at a recent event at the Fair Trading Commission. "It is very critical for us as a government to get a renewable energy policy going."


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March 7-April 1, 2013 Latin America Report: Weighing Brazil's Domestic Content Provision for Wind Power

Feb. 20-March 6, 2013 Latin America Report: Uruguay, Future Home of the World's Cheapest Solar Energy

Jan. 31-Feb. 19, 2013 Latin America Report: Mexico Just Scratching the Surface of Solar Demand

Jan. 18-29, 2013 Latin America Report: Mapping the Solar Energy Landscape

Jan. 1-17, 2013 Latin America Report : Canadian-Led Consortium Taps Solar Power from Ecuador

Lead image: Glassy globe of South America, via Shutterstock

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