Turning to Solar Power Solutions in Latin America
By admin March 4, 2019

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Harnessing the power of solar energy in Latin America is becoming a competition. Luckily there is unlimited shine to go around. First there was the Atacama solar plant in Chile, then the Coahuila solar plant in Mexico was installed, and now the Cauchari solar plant in Argentina was named as the largest solar plant in Latin America.


In 2014, construction of the solar plant began in the Atacama Desert covering 280 hectares. Chile was heavily dependent on imports from neighboring countries for energy that came at high prices. Investment in renewables has grown at a steady rate, where Chile is ranked in the top 10 of renewable energy markets in the world. Solar energy production costs half the price of the coal-fired power station. Eugenio Tironi, a sociologist, referred to the energy transformation as a silent revolution of Michelle Bachelet’s government that she will be remembered for later.


Mexico’s ongoing efforts to produce 35 percent of the nations’ energy through renewable sources within five years surely includes solar installations. Enel, the Italian green energy company, is expected to complete a solar installation the size of 2,200 football fields, by late 2019. Under the Nieto administration, Mexico set the goal to reduce black carbon emissions by 51 percent by 2030. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the new president of Mexico, is looking to overhaul the energy industry, as he is scaling back prospects of privatization.


Northern Argentina, 4,000 meters above sea level, is the home of the Cauchari solar plant. Chinese technology and finance are behind the project to install 1.2 million solar panels and provide the grid with 300 megawatts of power with the goal of expanding production to 500 megawatts. The provincial energy company JEMSE owns and manages the plant, but it is was heavily financed (85% of funding) by the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim). Community members were trained and offered job opportunities to work at the site. The government has also agreed to provide indigenous communities who own land where Cauchari is located with two percent of annual profits.

At the moment, renewables only account for about four percent of the entire energy matrix but the goal is for 20 percent by 2025. China is playing a prominent role in infrastructure and energy investment. Former head of Argentina’s Renewable Energies Chamber (CADER), Carlos Saint James, said half of the winning wind energy projects and three-quarters of the solar projects were linked to Chinese capital and technology. Former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner signed treaties with China to enjoy a “strategic integral alliance.” This cooperation and China’s ability to win projects through the RenovAr energy auction, caused concerns among national industry associations.

The shift toward alternative clean renewable energy is always a win. Whether or not China is a heavy investor in global energy markets, country policies should encourage and incentivize national companies to go green.


For more information:

Latin America’s largest solar panel installation is in Mexico, but what is the future for renewable energy?

In Jujuy, China is building Latin America’s Largest solar plant: Cauchari

Chile learns to harvest its formidable solar power opportunities


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