Jul/Aug preview: The Latin Wind spirit

Colin Bennett

Colin Bennett reports on the state of play in the Latin American wind power market where a country other than Brazil is starting to flex some serious muscle.

This article excerpt is taken from the forthcoming issue of Renewable Energy Focus magazine (July/August issue). To register and receive a digital copy with the full article click here.

There is certainly much to celebrate when it comes to Latin America’s wind industry. The potential for wind power is especially strong in terms of the raw resources and provides a road for governments to develop a domestic source of energy to complement the region’s current dependence on large hydro generation.

The region is also adding new projects and capacity at an increasing rate. Optimists would even say, as Ernst and Young did in its 10th annual Renewable Energy Attractiveness Index, that “South America is leaving Europe behind”.

Ambitious and optimistic, maybe even over the top, the statement suggests that there is something brewing in South America that can potentially steal the show in the wind industry. Further into the index is another interesting gem: Brazil, says the firm, is losing its status in wind as the country’s regulators look to boost other sectors.

On the up

Chile, it seems, is the new rising star. This is not based on current capacity, but on its pipeline of projects and potential, E&Y notes. The country rose to the 25th rank in wind, out of 40 countries around the world covered in E&Y’s index. Also placing in the financial consultant’s index for the first time, Peru reached 26, just ahead of Mexico at 29. Brazil, even if its momentum has slowed, still holds the top ranking in Latin America however, coming in at 15 place overall.

A look at installed capacity doesn’t seem to capture the potential in resources. Rather it shows regional growth, but mostly on the back of Brazil. It does however, show record growth in terms of capacity as a region. According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), in 2012 Latin America added over 1GW for the first time, with six markets installing a combined 1225MW of new wind capacity to give a cumulative regional total of 3.5GW. Brazil accounted for the majority of growth, adding 1077MW in 2012.

The country also has almost 7GW of projects in the pipeline through 2016. Globally, GWEC describes Brazil as “one of the most promising onshore markets for wind energy, at least for the next five years”.

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Stage set for renewables in Latin America?

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