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LATIN AMERICA
Solar energy on the rise
8/16/2013
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Governments boost expansion of alternative energy sources.

Exploding megacities, economic growth and expanding industries have fortified the energy demands in the region.

Currently, solar energy makes up less than 4 percent of energy sources in Latin America; however countries like Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Peru are investing in the solar business with plans to increase the energy production. Peru has also announced extensive plans to provide two millions of its inhabitants with solar energy, especially in the poorer northern regions.

With the National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program, Peru started one of the biggest solar projects in the country so far. The project aims to provide access to electricity to 95 percent of Peru by the end of 2016. Currently about 66 percent of households in Peru have electricity.

The first phase of the project was inaugurated on July 8 by installing 1,601 solar panels in 126 communities in the northern province of Cajamarca, benefitting some 8,000 people. The government plans to install 12,500 solar plants over the next three years that will provide electricity to about 500,000 homes at a cost of US$200 million.

Energy and Mining Minister Jorge Merino stated that “this program is aimed at the poorest people, those who lack access to electric lighting and still use oil lamps, spending their own resources to pay for fuels that harm their health.”

Brazil has vast potential when it comes to solar energy, however it remains widely unused. There are only few solar parks at the moment but numerous new projects have been approved for this year and the years to come. In Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas state, a $13 million project to build one of the largest solar parks in Latin America is waiting for its approval this year. It would generate enough energy to supply 3,000 homes. Brazil´s biggest city, São Paulo, also plans to construct a solar park connected to the municipality’s electrical system.

Chile, with the desert of Atacama in the north, has a clear potential to provide solar energy to its citizens and also other countries. The desert has an area of 105,000 square kilometers and is believed to possess one of the world´s biggest solar potential. Chile has the largest electricity consumption per capita in Latin America and in order to meet the demand, the Chilean government has called for 10 percent of the electricity to be generated by renewable energy resources by 2024.

Ecuador inaugurated its first solar facility in February. Located in the northern province of Imbabura, the plant has 4,100 solar panels connected to the country’s electrical grid. Similarly, Nicaragua launched a solar farm in February located in Carazo province, south of Managua, that will benefit 1,100 homes.
—Latinamerica Press.


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