The enormous potential of renewable energies in Latin America: they can increase more than 460% by 2030 | future america | The USA Print

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The arrival of new governments in Latin America and the Caribbean has given the impression that the energy transition discourse is gaining more strength. According to a report released Thursday by the research organization Global Energy MonitorIf you add the projects that have already been announced by companies, those that are in the pre-construction stage or are actually being built, the region’s large-scale wind and solar capacity will increase by more than 460% by 2030. By then, some 319 gigawatts of solar and wind energy would be produced, although only counting solar parks that generate more than 20 megawatts and wind farms of more than 10 megawatts, and without taking into account the energy produced by hydroelectric plants.

Currently, these two types of energy – the report states – have a capacity of 69 gigawatts (27.6 solar and 41.5 wind), which is equivalent to a little more than 15% of the region’s electrical capacity. To reach those 319 gigawatts, the researchers expect several projects to be already underway, including the two largest-scale ones in each of these technologies. The first is the H2 Magallanes Wind Farm, in Chile, which will generate up to 10 gigawatts and is expected to start operating by 2027. “It is mainly intended for the production of green hydrogen,” the document states.

The second, named Berço Das Gerais, is located in Brazil and, although the start-up date has not yet been defined, it would be the largest solar park in Latin America, with a capacity of 5.7 megawatts. In fact, in this country, the largest offshore wind project is also expected to come into operation: the Ventos Do Sul offshore wind farm, which would be operated Ocean Winds, and which is expected to start operating in 2027 as well.

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“Brazil used to be like the rest of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in that there was no renewable energy,” Kasandra O’Malia, one of the five authors of the report, tells América Futura. “But suddenly we are seeing an explosion of projects that come together with their conditions to be able to generate renewable energy, including their large territory on the coast.” Brazil, in total, could have a capacity of 217 gigawatts between wind and solar by 2030, which would make it the leader in the region. They are followed, according to these calculations, by Chile (38), Colombia (37), Peru (10) and Mexico (7).

And although the latter appears on this list, the document also warns that, “Mexico’s large-scale wind and solar installations have decreased.” The report describes that the North American country was “a prominent leader in the development of large-scale solar and wind power for many years with strong annual growth.” But O’Malia says that he has been losing that position due to a series of policies and a government that decided to prioritize other types of energy sources, including gas.

Renewables not exempt from conflicts

Globally, the migration from fossil fuel-based energy to renewable energy has been seen as a good sign to mitigate climate change. However, this has also generated socio-environmental conflicts, displacements and human rights violations. Latin America and the Caribbean have not avoided this problem. “Every project should start with the participation of the community and make sure that the communities where they are installing benefit, so that they accept them. Otherwise there will be a local rejection”, says O’Malia.

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“Many times the projects are being developed in indigenous territory and they are perpetrating the errors of extractivism. We are transitioning from fossil fuels, but we are not applying the fair share,” she adds. “Since 2020, protests in Latin America have focused on countering new forms of extractivism during the energy transition, with some areas with especially high levels of wind resources, such as La Guajira, in Colombia, and Oaxaca, in Mexico, shaken by the social movements that demand greater local participation in the planning of the processes and a more equitable distribution of the economic benefits associated with wind developments”, the document reads. Among the clues that the expert gives about how this fairer transition could be, she says something essential: “In an ideal world, the community would be co-owner of the projects.”

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