Latin America: wind energy emerges and attracts Europe

05.04.2011 By: Transfer Latin Business Consultancy based on an article of LAWEA

Last year, Latin America introduced over 700 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity. Brazil was leading with 326 MW of newly installed capacity, followed by Mexico with 316 MW (including the 250-megawatt Eurus wind farm in the south). But according to The Latin American Wind Energy Association (LAWEA) these developments have been only the first steps taken. Within ten to fifteen years the association expects other enormous construction plans to be realised. Brazil, but also Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are expected to add a significant amount this decade. A closer look at some of these countries leads to interesting facts.

Brazil for example will have constructed another 4.000 MW of new capacity by 2013. Today Brazil has an installed capacity for wind farm energy of 927 MW, equivalent to 0,6% of the country's entire electricity output. The new wind turbines installed should be five times as high, about 3,5% of the total capacity, and should grow much more within one decade.

Peru is one of the Latin American countries that sees great potential for diversifying its energy mix through wind power. This is being confirmed by Luis Haro, Director-general of the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM). The country's electricity demand today is built up by 63% of hydropower, 31% of gas, 3% of coal and the remaining 2% of fuel oil. The Peruvian government considers plans to add additional capacity in rural areas in order to meet the growing demand and to increase electricity penetration in these areas. The Ministry estimates that the potential of renewable resources in Peru is enormous, with a wind resource equivalent of more than 22.000 MW. Therefore in Peru three new wind farms will be built with a total capacity of 140 MW. These plants will be put into service by 2012.

Argentina, internationally recognized as one of the countries with the greatest potential for wind development, has installed only 30 MW until now. In 2009 ENARSA has tendered and received several offers, which together should generate about 1.461 MW, equivalent to 6,67% of the country's total capacity.

And also Uruguay’s Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining declared that the country could generate 25-28% of its power from wind turbines and biomass in 2015, nearly twice its 15% target.

There are enough facts and figures to confirm that in Latin America renewable energies are popular and that wind energy has been added as a full partner product, next to the other more established ones. However, the continent is lacking proprietary wind technologies and companies and is looking for support from more established wind markets in order to stimulate the development of its own wind energy industry. It seems to have drawn the attention of Spanish companies. Spain is beginning to extend its reach into Latin America, taking advantage of the close trade links Spain already has with many countries in the region. Leading companies such as Gamesa and Abengoa are already active on the continent. Iberdrola Renovables for example has already installed 106 MW of wind capacity in Mexico and 49 MW in Brazil.