NotiEn - A newsletter on Energy Policy issues in Latin America
April 15, 2010Vol 1, Issue 1
Alternative Sources of Energy
A quick look to 13 years of Renewable Energy in
Latin America...

Welcome to the inaugural issue of NotiEn. During the next few months, we will be highlighting various aspects of energy in the Americas, ranging from renewable energy, South American natural gas and hydroelectric power, to the region's major oil companies (Petrobras, PEMEX and PDVSA).

We will publish two editions of NotiEn between April and September, drawing on articles that are contained in the Latin America Data Base (a unit of the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico), mostly from 2000 to the first half of 2010.

In October, we will begin publishing current information written primarily by LADB correspondents in Latin America. This first issue looks at efforts to promote renewable energy in the region, especially in Mexico, Brazil and parts of Central America.

Renewable energy has been a topic of discussion in Latin America since the 1980s and 1990s, but has taken on greater importance in recent years. In the mid-1990s, 34 Latin American and Caribbean nations met in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to try to develop a common policy. While many countries support renewable energy, the efforts to implement environmentally friendly energy sources in the region have been at best uneven.

For most countries in the region, a lack of resources presents an obstacle. For example, countries like Nicaragua have a strong potential to develop geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind energy but lack the financial resources and expertise to move forward with projects.

Alternative energies are becoming increasingly important in Mexico, especially with President Felipe Calderon's efforts to make the country a leader in addressing global climate change. Calderon has pledged to ensure that 26% of all electricity produced in Mexico comes from renewable resources, including electricity.  This percentage includes hydroelectricity, which critics say promotes other environmental problems. But Mexico is also putting a strong emphasis on wind energy, having inaugurated two projects within the past two years.

There are other efforts in Mexico to promote alternative energy. The state-run oil company PEMEX is examining its practices in an attempt to cut its carbon footprint. And the governors of the six Mexican border states and four US states have made a commitment to promote renewable as a means to  cut pollution along the US-Mexico border.

In South America, Brazil and its neighbors in the Southern Cone region are looking very closely at renewable energy, but investment in green technologies has been thus far very cautious. A case in point is in Chile, where newly installed President Sebastian Piņera, promoted alternative energy during the campaign but is not expected to expand the country's efforts to promote green technologies beyond those put in place by his predecessor Michelle Bachelet.

Even though wind, solar and other alternative technologies have not yet become a major part of energy policy in Latin America and the Caribbean, leaders in the region will be forced to consider these types of energy sources. As demand for electrical power and energy increases in Latin America and concerns about global climate change come to the forefront, leaders in the region are going to be forced to look more closely at alternative energy. We will continue to follow trends in renewables as they evolve throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.

Carlos Navarro - Editor


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Energy Policy, Regulation and Dialogue in Latin America

NotiEn is an original newsletter with breaking news that analyzes and digests relevant and contemporary information in energy, alternative energy and energy policies in Latin America. A complimentary service provided by the University of New Mexico as part of LA-ENERGAIA Project funded by the US TICFIA Program