By Pierre Alarie – ATCO Managing Director Latin America
The energy capacity from renewable sources in Latin America and the Caribbean amounted to more than 262 gigawatts in 2019, up from approximately 250 gigawatts a year earlier.
In comparison to 2010, this represents an increase of over 56 percent. In this same order, the region’s hydropower capacity went up to nearly 200 gigawatts in the past year, a fact that represented around 76 percent of the region’s overall renewable energy capacity.
South America saw the fastest hydropower growth rate after the East Asia and Pacific region in 2019 with close to 5,172 MW of capacity added.
Latin America: moving into a new hydropower trend?
The region is moving to a diversified renewable electricity mix. Countries like Colombia and Ecuador have installed hydropower capacity exceeding two-thirds of the electricity share.
Chile and Argentina are also moving away from fossil fuel generation with extensive untapped renewable energy resources of hydropower, wind, solar, and geothermal.
Chile currently has almost 16 GW, and Argentina nearly 33 GW of hydropower potential.
With an ambitious goal of producing 60 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2035, Chile has achieved an installed capacity of 10.8 percent from solar and 8.6 percent from wind in its national electricity grid. ATCO is already there to pursue new opportunities.
The scenario in Mexico
Hydropower remains the largest renewable energy source in Mexico, making up about 80 percent of the country’s renewable energy supply.
At the end of 2017, ATCO acquired a 35 megawatt (MW) hydroelectric plant in the state of Veracruz, marking a milestone in our growing global portfolio of renewable energy.
Our plant avoids 48,950 tons per year of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, equivalent to 10,230,817 liters of gasoline.
The electricity generated supplies more than 200 convenience stores in Mexico, delivering clean energy at a competitive cost, helping our customers meet their clean energy obligations.
This hydroelectric plant has created employment opportunities for the surrounding communities as part of a long-term and mutually beneficial agreement.
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ATCO on collaboration
Working with our neighbors is essential to our operations and in completing infrastructure projects. Central to these efforts are our people, who live, work, and volunteer in the hundreds of communities we serve worldwide.
Clean energy and renewables are resilient to the Covid crisis but not to policy uncertainties.
Governments can provide the Public Policy framework to bring about a sustainable recovery and accelerate clean energy transitions.
However, in countries like Mexico, the lack of clarity due to a substantial policy shift in the government’s electricity sector has brought to a stop billions of dollars of investment in the Renewable energy sector.
In 2025, renewables are set to become the largest electricity generation source, ending coal’s five decades as the top power provider.
ATCO leads the energy transition within our energy infrastructure and utility businesses; our goal is to enable the transition to a lower-emitting future.