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.

Carlos Navarro - Editor


Renewable Energy: Important Issue in Latin America in the mid-1990's
One of the early efforts to develop a coordinated strategy on renewable energy in Latin America and the Caribbean occurred in August 1996, when representatives from 34 countries in the region met in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to discuss this issue. The conference discussions were aimed at hammering out an agenda for the Summit of the Americas, which was scheduled for Bolivia Dec. 7-8, 1996. The summit was to focus on promoting clean and renewable energy sources as a basis for sustainable development in the region.  Read more...

Nicaragua: A Potential Alternative-Energy Hotspot
As the price of oil bulged beyond the US$50 per barrel mark for the first time in 2005, Nicaragua again found itself lost in a conundrum. With its geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind resources, the country is a potential generator of renewable, nonpolluting energy economically within reach of every citizen. But Nicaragua also lacks the means to motivate that kind of development and, as a result, has spent so much of its meager treasure on imported oil that it plunges ever more deeply into crippling debt. Read more...

In This Issue...
A Note from the Editor
Renewable Energy, Important issue in Latin America in the mid-1990's
Nicaragua: A potential alternative-energy hotspot
Border Governors Conference emphasizes environmental sustainability
Mexico inaugurates two wind-powered facilities in Oaxaca state
State-oil run company PEMEX attempts to reduce carbon footprint
Experts applaud President Felipe Calderon's commitment to renewable energy
Energy: Brazil and Neighbors turn tentatively toward renewables
Mexico inaugurates second major wind-energy plant
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera's green leanings unlikely to bring energy overhaul
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Border Governors Conference Emphasizes Environmental Sustainability
For many years, environmental sustainability for the US-Mexico border region was just another issue on the agenda at the Border Governors Conference. But the issue gained a much higher prominence in 2008, thanks in part to the strong advocacy of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had made environmental initiatives his top priority since he first participated in the forum five years ago. California's turn to host the Border Governors Conference came in 2008, giving Schwarzenegger the opportunity to make environmental sustainability the central theme of the 26th annual conference, held in Hollywood, California, Aug. 13-15. The conference addressed some of the advances that have been already taken place in reducing pollution along the border as well as the many challenges ahead for the chief executives of the 10 states. Read more...

Mexico Inaugurates Two Wind-Powered Facilities in Oaxaca State
Wind Energy
The Mexican government has begun strong efforts to promote alternative energy in Mexico, with some of the initial focus on developing wind-powered electricity. Two new wind-powered electrical facilities were inaugurated in Oaxaca state in January 2009, as part of a long-term project to develop this type of energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Some local authorities have also become involved in promoting and developing alternative energy, with the city of Toluca planning to launch the first phase of the Parque Ecologico Cacalomacan in March. The facility will produce energy from both solar and wind power. Read more...

State-Oil Run Company PEMEX Attempts to Reduce Carbon Footprint
The Mexican government is working hard to reduce the carbon footprint of the state-run oil company PEMEX, but the results thus far have been uneven at best. PEMEX has placed a high priority on actions that will help protect the environment, such as steps to greatly reduce emissions at some processing plants and introducing ethanol into the mix for gasoline in the three largest cities. But critics say these steps are very small when compared with the overall damage that the company has continued causing to the air, soil, and water in Mexico in recent years. Even some solutions, such as using more ethanol, have raised concerns that demand for raw materials will raise food prices in Mexico. Read more...

Experts Applaud President Felipe Calderon's Commitment to Renewable Energy
President Felipe Calderon has pledged to ensure that 26% of all electricity produced in Mexico will come from renewable sources by the end of his administration in 2012. The president revealed this goal at the Global Forum on Renewable Energy in Leon, Guanajuato state, in October 2009. Environmental advocates and energy experts who attended the XVI Border Energy Forum in Houston a week later applauded that commitment but said Calderon's promise was misleading. They noted that Mexico lacks the financial resources to make this pledge a reality. Furthermore, they said, Calderon was counting hydroelectric power, which has a mixed impact on the environment, as a renewable source. Read more...

Energy: Brazil and Neighbors Turn Tentatively Toward Renewables
Renewable Energy
For all their differences, Brazil and its Southern Cone neighbors share a common challenge as they struggle to balance rising energy demand against resource constraints and environmental concerns. Wind and other renewable-energy sources may well be part of the solution, but so far investment in green technologies has been cautious at best. In size, composition, and structure, the countries' electricity sectors vary tremendously. Brazil, the largest country in the region, boasts what is by far the most extensive power grid in the region, with installed capacity of roughly 100,000 megawatts--more than twice the electricity available in nearby Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile combined. The "sleeping giant" derives much of that electricity (approximately 80%) from large-scale hydroelectric dams but also generates a modest amount of power (roughly 2,000 MW) from a pair of nuclear plants. Paraguay is even more dependent on hydroelectricity, which accounts for basically all the country's installed capacity. The massive dams it shares with neighboring Argentina and Brazil even allow Paraguay to export electricity--at least during nondrought years. Argentina and Chile, in contrast, generate only about 40% of their power from dams, relying chiefly on fossil-fuel-burning generators to provide the rest. Read more...

Mexico Inaugurates Second Major Wind-Energy Plant

In early March, President Felipe Calderon inaugurated La Rumorosa wind-energy project in Baja California state, prompting the executive to declare that Mexico is becoming the most advanced country in Latin America in harnessing this type of energy. Mexico views a commitment to renewable energy as a necessary component of its campaign to fight global climate change. During March, Mexico also completed financing plans for a supercritical pressure coal-fired power plant under construction in Guerrero state. This technology is designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and operation costs.  La Rumorosa, which will supply the electrical-energy needs of Mexicali, is the country's second major wind-energy project, producing about 10 megawatts of electricity. But this project is significantly smaller than La Ventosa wind-power plant in Oaxaca, which has the capacity to generate a total of 330 MW from two separate plants. Read more...

Chilean President Sebastian Piņera's Green Leanings Unlikely to Bring Energy Overhaul
Well-known for his business prowess, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera also enjoys a reputation as something of an environmentalist. Yet for all his ecological good works and pro-environment rhetoric, analysts say that, when it comes to energy, Chile is not likely to see a "green revolution" anytime soon.   Pinera took that green-energy message on the campaign trail in 2009, promising greater investment in projects using nonconventional renewable-energy sources (NCREs), like wind and solar.  A month after being sworn in, however, Pinera has yet to offer a clear indication of how that environmental inclination might translate into concrete policy--particularly where energy is concerned. So far, renewable energy has been notably absent from any government discourse, despite featuring so prominently in the president's campaign platform. Read more...
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