Latin America is possibly the greenest region in the world nowadays. According to data from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), over 60 percent of the region’s electricity came from renewable sources late last year. Wind and solar power are gaining more and more weight in the energy mix and are the protagonists of the transition process towards decarbonization.
Compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 is based on a fundamental pillar that encompasses efficiency, promotion of renewables, less polluting use of fossil fuels, developing infrastructures that can alleviate the energy shortage and solve structural problems, research, innovation, and regional energy integration.
According to United Nations (UN) data, for a population of 782 million people, the renewable resources in Latin America and the Caribbean are large enough to cover its projected 2050 electricity needs 22 times over. All these countries are promoting investment in renewable sources, to the extent that the average solar power production per megawatt/hour is reaching that of coal and gas. In some, it is already below this index. Excluding hydraulics, installed capacities have multiplied over the past decade (going from 10 gigawatts to 36 gigawatts between 2006 and 2015).
Renewables in Latin America: An opportunity for Spain
The most remarkable growth recorded was seen in wind power and biomass. Countries like Mexico are planning to double renewable power production over the next ten years. In Argentina and Chile, which so far had resisted the trend of subsidizing these new technologies, the situation has changed. In Colombia, Bolivia, and Venezuela the transformation has been slower, but is steadily moving ahead. Despite the fact that hydroelectricity accounts for 70 percent of its power generation, Brazil is making progress in the development of renewable energies with great potential in wind and solar PV power.
In terms of investment, Spanish utilities have been on a rise, showing special interest in the green energy business and wind farm construction and production. With Iberdrola at the lead, Acciona, Repsol, Abengoa, and Siemens Gamesa have become the leaders of energy transition in Latin America. We dedicated this issue to explore this particular topic, mainly focusing on the most important aspects to understand a phenomenon that is significantly changing energy production in the region.