Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Chile, Colombia and Argentina are leading the way.

Latin America has seen exponential growth in the use of renewable energy, driven mainly by government initiatives to find lower-priced energy alternatives.

Chile is leading the way with increased emphasis on the use of solar energy, especially in the Atacama Desert, which receives the highest level of solar radiation in the world. Due to the amount of solar radiation Chile receives, it is likely that the country will be able to supply 98% of its population with solar energy in the near future. In addition, based on data disclosed by the Chilean Solar Committee, by utilizing just 6,000 square kilometers of the Atacama Desert, Chile could supply 30% of South America’s energy needs with solar power. Chile will soon complete the construction of the first thermosolar power plant in Latin America. The project has received close to $800 million in investment and has been recognized by Project Finance International as the Best Financing Project for the renewable energy sector in the region.

After Chile, Colombia is viewed as a leader in the use of renewable energy, coming in eighth in the world for renewable energy according to the Global Performance Index of Energy Architecture prepared by the World Economic Fund. Colombia recently inaugurated its largest solar plant in El Paso Park, and this plant will provide renewable energy to some 102,000 Colombian homes.

Meanwhile, Argentina is also making significant investments in renewable energy, mainly wind and photovoltaic energy in the province of San Luis. In addition, the Argentine government recently established a law that by 2025, 20% of the country’s energy output must be renewable. This is expected to result in $15 billion worth of investment opportunities and 10GW expansion of installed renewable energy capacity.

It seems clear that renewable energy will play a big part in the region in the coming years, as more countries reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas. Given this, the time is now for companies involved in renewable energy to turn their attention to the Latin American market, including the following opportunities:

  • The government has identified four focus areas for renewable energy growth: the global carbon market, large-scale solar projects, renewable energy for self-consumption, and energy efficiency and cogeneration in the industrial and commercial sector.
  • Both solar energy and wind energy are focus areas, especially with regards to solar energy on the Caribbean coast and wind energy in La Guajira, which has the potential to generate half of the country's energy.
  • The Ministry of Energy carries out supply programs based on solar and wind energy. The Program for Renewable Energies in Rural Markets (PERMER) grants total or partial financing—in the case of public establishments—to provide energy in rural areas.