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Latin America: Photovoltaic and renewable (3rd part)

16 May 2019

Over the past years we have been assisting in Latin America what some have called photovoltaic boom. Undoubtedly, the region has been experiencing a transition or transformation of its energy systems, opting more decidedly on renewables.

The region that we consider would cover all of South America, the Caribbean and / or Central American region and the most northern, the country of Mexico. In short, the Spanish-speaking populations, without discarding those of greater Portuguese, Dutch, French or English ancestry, typical of the area.

A series of factors have been concatenated so that the green transformation is incorporated into these regions or countries. Perhaps the first thing to note is the fall in prices, mainly in the costs of photovoltaic and wind, secondly an energy economy based previously and to a large degree on hydroelectric sources, in addition to the conventional ones. This has generated that a strong flow of large companies and investors have concentrated on these business models. Governments rely increasingly on auctions or bids and even the recruitment system PPAs is already being developed. Another factor that has contributed most decisively to the development of these non-conventional renewable energies (NCRE) or variable renewable energies (VRE) has been distributed generation or self-consumption, extensive to most of the countries that we consider and whose regulation is somewhat diverse according to country. Note that in some estimates clean energy is considered nuclear.

Among the disadvantages that this development and implementation has found, we highlight the following, being some of them common to the different countries, although with their differential peculiarities: general financing problems, fiscal charges, currency depreciation (Mexico, Brazil), natural disasters (Haiti, Puerto Rico), political conflict (Nicaragua, Colombia and its famous transition), regulations and regulation and sometimes government vetoes (Paraguay), network restrictions, transmission and interconnections, infrastructure deficit, high dependence on hydroelectric power , relative percentages of population without electricity, ruralization, etc.

A considerable number of countries present figures today that place them in outstanding places in the global scenario, countries that will require a more specific zoom, although until recently they had similar parameters to less developed countries. In other words, from now on it will be difficult to continue studying the Latin American region as a whole.

We are going to try, within renewable energies, to focus on solar energy. The figures by countries that we present (including those corresponding to 2018) taken from IRENA do not include Mexico within the countries of Central America or the Caribbean. This country is the only one that presents a certain production in 2018 of solar thermal energy. For the rest of the countries, they are exactly the same figures for solar as for photovoltaic. The IRENA figures that we show do not collect data from Paraguay.

We are going to review some data and headlines referring to Latin America as a whole, and then list them by country (4th part).


Exponential growth of photovoltaics.

In April 2017, the website energíarenovables.com, announced what was expected from Latin America: The photovoltaic boom.

Pv magazine 2018 and signed (as most of the articles on this page) by Pilar Sánchez Molina confirmed the omens: "With 2,472 MW added, the new photovoltaic capacity installed in Latin America was 52% higher in 2017 than the total installed in 2016 ". Obviously this is dragged from other accessory markets: "Latin America was the largest market for solar trackers in 2017 and global shipments scheduled for 2018 could reach 20 GW, representing an increase of almost 30%."

The growth data are reviewed by most of the pages from the field: "Renewable energies grew in Latin America." Reve 26/07/2018.

"The report made by GTM Research uphold that 'the Latin American market is in the process of growing exponentially', with an accumulated forecast of 41 GW of photovoltaic energy demand installed between 2016 and 2021. The annual facilities are on its way to double in the same period, so at the end of the decade it is expected that Latin America represents 10% of the global demand for photovoltaic energy ". energiasrenovables.com

“El crecimiento global de las energías renovables no hidroeléctricas se mantuvo fuerte en 2017, y los mercados para la energía eólica, la energía solar fotovoltaica y otras tecnologías renovables están surgiendo en muchos países de la región”. REN21 2018.

“El margen de crecimiento es tan grande como difícil de calcular”  según Víctor Hugo Ventura,  jefe de la Unidad de Energía y Recursos Naturales de la Cepal (Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe)   elpaís.com nov 2018

"The global growth of non-hydro renewable energies remained strong in 2017, and markets for wind power, photovoltaic solar energy and other renewable technologies are emerging in many countries in the region." REN21 2018.

"The growth margin is as big as it is difficult to calculate" according to Victor Hugo Ventura, head of the Energy and Natural Resources Unit of ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) elpaís.com Nov 2018

Great attraction for companies and investments:

The emergence of international power companies in Latin America is a proof of how mature and attractive their renewable energy market has become. Investment in the clean energy market in Latin America last year grew 25 times faster than the global rate (...) "Latin America has become a place for great players" according to Carlos St. James, Director of strategic development at America of John Wood Group PLC. bloomberg.com/latam 14/03/2018.
Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole still represent a small part of global demand, but markets are expanding rapidly and large companies are coming to the region with expectations of massive growth. REN21 2018.
The world's energy giants go to the Latin American renewable energy market. bloomberg.com/latam 14/03/2018.
Latin America, a land rich in resources and opportunities for renewables. Energetica21.com 22/04/2019.
After a 2017 marked by floods and hurricanes, the region is in the forefront of climate change and the need to move towards another model is imperative. (...) The long-term loss of oil weight is inexorable. And the wind, solar and geothermal are called to take their place, also in the portfolios of international investors: in the heat of this second renewable revolution, dozens of companies in the sector around the world have settled in the region. (...) The subcontinent is running at several speeds. elpaís.com Nov 2018

New forms of recruitment:

At the end of 2017, a significant amount of capacity was in the pipeline after tenders in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Most of the installations have been made through APPs large-scale. REN21 2018.

Great development of distributed generation.

But distributed photovoltaic solar energy has experienced significant growth in Brazil and Mexico, where high electricity prices and net metering provide an incentive to switch to solar PV. REN21 2018.

Not only in Brazil and Mexico do they experience this growth: we will see it reflected when we detail by countries.

Dependence on hydroelectric plants.

52% of the electricity in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama came from hydroelectric plants in 2017 (...)The incipient solar already rubs 2.7% in the six countries, a figure that increases exponentially in Honduras -10% -, thanks to the Nacaome-Valle plant, one of the largest in Latin America. elpaís.com Nov 2018

Renewable energy sources (mainly hydroelectric) represented almost two thirds of the region's electricity supply in 2016. REN21 2018.

A small number of countries are presented as locomotives in the region.

Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Chile, responsable for almost 80% of the energy consumption of all Latin america. elpaís.com Nov 2018.
Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Colombia lead solar energy in Latin America. energialimpiaparatodos.com 22/08/2018.
These are the leading countries in photovoltaic solar energy in Latin America. enerray.com/es 23/10/2018.
Latin America has finally occupied a deserved position on the global scene with Brazil, Chile and Mexico at the head, followed by Argentina and Colombia on their heels. pv-magazine-latam.com 2018.

Source: own elaboration from IRENA statistics of renewable capacity 2019

Durante Noviembre del 2018, el diario El País emitió una serie de artículos bajo el título de EL AUGE DE LAS RENOVABLES EN LATINOAMÉRICA  y  de los cuales presentamos los cuatro titulares así como las firmas de los corresponsales.

During November 2018, the newspaper El País issued a series of articles under the title THE RISE OF THE RENEWABLE IN LATIN AMERICA and of which we present the four headlines as well as the signatures of the journalists.

The second renewable revolution in Latin America. The multiplication of wind turbines and photovoltaic panels are the symptom of a change of background: the wind and the solar take over from the hydraulic in the regional electricity matrix. IGNACIO FARIZA. Mexico
Wind and solar make their way in Mexico and Central America between ambition and uncertainty. Despite the great growth of clean energy, the transmission infrastructure is insufficient and some communities resist the projects. JON MARTÍN CULLELL. ÁLVARO MURILLO. Juchitán (Oaxaca) / San José (Costa Rica).
Argentina embraces renewables with the mirror of Chile and Uruguay. Macri projects investments of 4,500 million dollars to reach 20% of electricity generation, a goal already surpassed by its neighbors. FEDERICO RIVAS MOLINA. ROCÍO MONTES. MAGDALENA MARTÍNEZ. Buenos Aires / Santiago / Montevideo
Colombia aims for 10% clean energy in four years. Almost half a million households still lack electricity and the country is heavily dependent on hydroelectric power plants and fossil fuels. FRANCESCO MANETTO. Bogotá.

To finish we mentioned a very documented and current article about the North American photovoltaic: "U.S. solar market tops 10 GW in 2018, again "by Jennifer Runyon, March 14, 2019 renewableenergyworld.com. as well as a holder of greentechmedia.com 23/08/2018: By 2023, the world will have 1 trillion watts of installed capacity of photovoltaic solar energy. By then, the 1.4-cent solar contracts will be "old news".

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