Written by Ian Cardenas, Paralegal
Latin American countries are increasingly turning to solar and wind power as ways to meet demand for their energy systems, especially countries that rely on hydropower.
Brazil, Chile and Colombia are the main countries in the region’s future wind and solar landscape. They are each seeing a steady growth in the increase of potential projects.
Changes in rainfall patterns and dwindling water resources are extremely important factors in the move towards rapid adoption of large-scale renewable energy by Latin American countries dependent on hydropower.
Natural factors are a big plus for the region as most of the countries have high solar irradiation and great potential for offshore wind development.
In addition, a potential energy surplus from the expansion of large-scale renewables could allow Latin American countries to compete in the global energy market.
Opportunities to increase solar and wind power
Global Energy Monitor studies the evolving international energy landscape, creating databases, reports and interactive tools that improve understanding. Its work transforms complexity into clarity, with the goal improving the quality of public discourse on energy and the environment.
Recent published studies indicate that Latin America has the potential to increase its utility-scale solar and wind power capacity by more than 460% by 2030 if the 319 gigawatts (GW) of potential new projects in the region come online.
Together with existing distributed and smaller-scale solar capacity, Latin America will be on track to meet, and potentially exceed, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) regional net zero renewable energy targets by 2030 if it implements all of its prospective projects on a larger scale.
While distributed solar may be at the center of the transition to renewables in Latin America, the region is also at an important inflection point when it comes to supporting major large-scale projects that could turn it into a global energy giant, according to Kasandra O’Malia, project director of the Global Solar Power Tracker.
Case study – Chile
Chile is considered one of the countries with great potential in Latin America for increased wind energy, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). In its latest global market report, GWEC said it expected wind capacity to increase to an average of 107GW per year by 2025.
One of the two largest-scale solar and wind energy projects in the sector, known as the H2 Magallanes wind farm in southern Chile, is expected to be implemented, generating up to 10 gigawatts, and is projected to be operational by 2027. “It is primarily intended for the production of green hydrogen”.
The renewables race is accelerating rapidly, which means that countries that have stepped up their efforts, such as Brazil and Colombia, must remain vigilant as they build large-scale solar and wind projects. Latin America can become a global benchmark for a just energy transition if future projects respect ecological balances and bring not only economic but also social benefits”.
Sophia Bauer, Researcher at Global Energy Monitor.