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Latin America Report: 7 Renewable Energy Stories Worth Reading

The renewable energy market is fast-paced and growing with each passing day. It’s hard to keep up with every industry announcement and insight, so we decided to highlight interesting developments that took place during the past few weeks, and some valuable insights that are worth revisiting.

In the pages that follow, you’ll find out more about why industry experts are saying Latin America’s renewable energy market is set to blossom. For example, Chile, labeled the hottest renewable energy market in the world, recently scored $7 billion in renewable investments, while Mexico implemented an energy reform package that may bolster huge returns for solar projects. 

Brazil, a developing country that is oft-blamed for increased carbon emissions, is striving to turn the story around and promote their green initiatives, such as their leadership in the biofuels sector — Jim Lane of Biofuels Digest highlights the top 10 biofuels trends in the country. In other parts of the developing world, Kara Dewhurst explains the need for a carefully planned social impact assessment for successful and sustainable geothermal projects and details a new project in Colombia that does just that.

Check out two commentary pieces filled with insight on Latin American project development. CEO of Greenwood Energy Camilo Patrignani shares his first-hand insights on building renewable energy projects in several Latin American countries, while Ben Moody, CEO of Pan American Finance, dispels some solar energy myths and why the Latin American market is prime for development. 

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Chile Attracts $7 Billion in Renewable Investment
By: Bloomberg News Editors

Chile, the wealthiest nation in Latin America, is attracting $7 billion of renewable investments from Abengoa SA to SunEdison Inc. as the government seeks to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels to supply cheaper power to the mining industry, which provides a third of the world’s copper.

“It’s a good economy with a stable political environment,” Garland said. “Renewables will become a much bigger part of the Chilean electricity supply.”

Pattern Energy Group LP, the developer of Chile’s biggest wind farm, plans to proceed with a solar plant in the top copper-producing nation’s Atacama Desert.

Continue reading this store here.

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Lessons in Solar Development for the Latin American Market
By: Camilo Patrignani, CEO, Greenwood Energy 

Latin America has one of the world’s brightest solar power market outlooks. High power prices and volatile fuel supplies have made solar cheaper than fossil fuels in many countries, driving new investment and capacity additions. Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica were three of the just seven nations worldwide to show an increase in renewable energy financing in 2013, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

The unique market dynamics that make solar cost-competitive with fossil fuels also pose challenges to building new projects in Latin America. Low transmission capacity, high interconnection issues, supply constraints, and the need for local business connections are several of the hurdles facing foreign solar developers. Fortunately, the rapid pace of new project development also means companies are learning lessons about what works and what doesn’t in Latin America’s solar market.

Continue reading this story here.

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China, Brazil Consider Publicity Blitz to Steer Climate Debate
By: Bloomberg News Editors

China and Brazil are looking for ways to redirect a global climate debate, which they say unfairly accuses developing nations of delaying limits on fossil-fuel pollution.

China wants to blitz attendees at United Nations-led climate talks with pamphlets touting the clean-energy gains made by the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Brazil wants more recognition for slowing destruction of the planet’s biggest rainforest.

“We must work on how we sell ourselves better, how we sell our positions to the world,” Francisco Gaetani, Brazil’s deputy environment minister, said in a closed-door meeting attended by Bloomberg News in Delhi today with counterparts from China, India and South Africa.

Continue reading this story here.

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Top 10 Trends in Brazil Biofuels for 2014
By: Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest

Brazil’s on the move on a number of fronts — sales, diversification of products and feedstocks, and even in engine development. Let’s look at the Top 10 Trends.

1. Feedstock Diversification

If you thought it was all cane, cane, cane, think again. There’s a lot of movement on sorghum, and castor beans — and even some on corn.

Sorghum: The biggest news of late was from NexSteppe, which reported this week that it sold more than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of its Palo Alto high biomass sorghums for biopower in Brazil this past growing season.  This makes it the market share leader in the fast-growing market for bioenergy sorghums in Brazil, with 65 percent market share.

Yields vary by location, but NexSteppe CEO Anna Rath told the Digest that “50-60 wet tons or ~25 dry tons per hectare is a conservative expectation under “ordinary” conditions.”

Continue reading this story here.

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Leading the Charge in Mexico’s Renewable Energy Revolution
By: Vince Font, Contributing Editor

August 11 was an auspicious day for Mexico. Some seventy-six years after the government nationalized the country’s oil industry, President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law an energy reform package that many are saying will have a transformative impact on the economy of Mexico. The landmark legislation, which will open Mexico’s oil and natural gas markets to foreign investment, also directs certain changes to the electricity sector that will require grid operator CENACE to procure generation from renewable resources.

Those companies involved in solar development throughout Mexico are poised to make enormous gains — companies like ILIOSS, a Mexico City-based solar developer, who on August 21 announced a $500 million partnership with Greenwood Energy to develop more than 250 MW of new PV projects throughout Mexico between now and 2017.

Continue reading this story here.

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Geothermal Project in Colombia Succeeds Through Participatory Development
By: Kara Dewhurst, Contributor

Anyone involved with infrastructure development knows all too well the effects that projects have on local communities. These effects can be positive or negative, but experience tells us that social and political conflict seems to be an inevitable part of the development process. In places with existing social, political, and economic turmoil, the risk of conflict is high and begins at the earliest stages of exploration and planning.

In corporate lingo, companies speak of “risk mitigation” when preparing to go into such regions. They calculate costs and benefits and develop risk mitigation strategies as they would for any sort of calculable risk whether it be social, environmental, or economic.

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Sunshine Daydream? Wake Up, Now is the Time for Solar Energy in Latin America
By: Ben Moody, CEO, Pan American Finance 

Often, the most promising opportunities are those that become visible when the sun shines on a dark space. One such dark space is the wealth of untapped energy sources throughout Latin America; and of those energy alternatives, perhaps none looms as promising as the sunlight itself.

The rate of adoption for solar energy throughout Latin America is shockingly low when compared to the rest of the world. With up to 100 gigawatts of solar energy expected to be deployed globally each year, less than 500 megawatts — or about one half of one percent — is expected in Latin America. 

While other regions have already deployed considerable resources in solar as part of larger sustainable energy programs, solar photovoltaic technology is largely non-existent in Latin America. The Inter-American Development Bank released a report last year indicating that Latin America and Caribbean countries could, in theory, meet 100 percent of their energy needs from renewables. For instance, the Chilean desert offers an economic potential for solar similar to Arizona or Nevada, two leaders in the U.S.  Other regions — like South Africa — are making rapid headway; the time for solar power in Latin America is now.

Continue reading this story here.