By the Potencia correspondent
16 August 2010 - Wind energy as a source to produce low-carbon electricity is gradually gaining ground in Latin America. The need for clean energy has become a goal for many governments in the region and ranks high on their agendas.
However, there are still many Latin American nations that use highly-polluting fuel sources to produce their power, namely coal and oil. In Central America, countries like Honduras produce 50 per cent of its electricity from oil, while in neighboring Nicaragua it is topping 70 per cent.
The growing importance of renewables in the region was recently illustrated by Brazil's energy and mining minister, Marcio Zimmermann. Attending a summit on clean energy, hosted in Washington DC, USA, in which 24 nations participated - including China, Canada, Russia, India and Spain –he revealed that 47 per cent of the electricity produced in the country currently comes from renewable sources. Out of this 47 per cent, 14 per cent is derived from wind farms.
A recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance entitled ‘Latin American Clean Energy Market Outlook H1 2010’, analyzed in great depth the investment in clean energy, particularly electricity derived from wind farms, in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.
According to Carlos Saint James, president of the Argentine Renewable Energy Chamber
, Argentina could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.’ Saint James claims that the demand for clean energy sources will supersede the demand for other more conventional energy sources this century. Argentina is now the fifth largest producer of biodiesel, behind Germany, the US, France and Brazil.
Argentinean law is also promoting the use of wind energy. Buenos Aires is planning to build a wind farm with the capacity of 90 MW. This project is part of Argentine's government’s three-year plan to generate 895 MW from renewable energy.
Mexico is another Latin American country with a huge potential when it comes to the construction and development of wind facilities. The Aztec nation has already a number of wind farms in operation and several projects under construction.
One of them is currently being built by Iberdrola Ingenieria
of Spain. The company recently obtained a EUR78.5m (US$101.4m) grant from the European Investment Bank
(EIB) to finance the construction of the wind farm in the southwest of the country. It will comprise 121 wind turbines and generate 103 MW of power.
, which is a subsidiary of Spain’s Acciona, is also building a wind farm in the southern state of Oxaca. This facility is expected to generate 900 GWh. The investment in this project is approximately US$570m and is financed by Bancomext, Mexico’s state-owned bank and the country’s development bank, Nafinsa, as well as European financial institutions.
Mexico currently has the capacity to produce more than 10,000MW from renewable energy. The country has sufficient wind power infrastructure to currently produce 500 MW and is home to the biggest wind farm in Latin America. The Eurus wind facility, also located in Oxaca, has a capacity of 250 MW.