Latin America must diversify its energy sector to withstand climate change
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Latin America must diversify its energy sector to withstand climate change

The Latin American region, because of its geographical location and number of developing countries, is most vulnerable to climate change, a scenario that brings the region closer to a prolonged energy crisis.

Almost every country in the region has power problems. Colombia’s power infrastructure has failed to improve due to attacks against rural power sources by guerrilla group the FARC. Despite improvements, the absence of sources remains the main issues in Chile. In Mexico, it is politics that hinders comprehensive transformation in the energy sector.

The list goes on, but the conclusion is unanimous: Latin America is still far from escaping the horrors of its energy crisis.

According to experts, the region must diversify its energy sector; it’s high time to stop believing that hydropower is the only answer. In fact, Latin America’s over-dependence on hydropower is also the reason why its energy crises intensified immensely in the past few years.

“Because of fewer resources for long-term adaptation to climate change effects on water resources, these developing countries are more vulnerable to changing water availability and extreme weather,” Jessica Belt of Green Biz said.

“The World Wildlife Fund estimates that irrigation from dams contributes from 12 to 16 percent of world food production — so the dependence on dams in developing countries jeopardizes not just electricity generation, but water and food supply as well.”

But where to begin? 

A perfect starting point for this diversification is, as suggested by James McKeigue of Money Week: renewable energy. Solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources could save the region from spending billions on energy sources and cost-cutting measures that continue to contribute to the problem instead of alleviating it.

“Another interesting growth area – albeit from a tiny start point – is renewable energy. For example, research group IHS believes that Latin America will install 700 MW of solar panels this year. That’s a tiny amount of power, but more than double the amount for 2013. In total, Latin America’s solar industry is expected to grow at 25 percent per year for the next decade,” he said.

Governments’ growing awareness of renewable energy’s importance has somewhat transformed the region into an attractive place for investors. A large number of renewable energy firms has flocked to Latin America’s energy-deprived countries to commence operations and introduce their own brand of energy-saving services and products.

Japanese clean technology company Aqua Power Systems , for instance, is now eyeing the Latin American region even if it is still securing permits to penetrate the North American market.

“Geography-wise, South America is an ideal point of expansion since it is near the United States. But what makes it (more) attractive is its growing need for alternative source of power,” CEO Tadashi Ishikawa said.

“We could help them tackle the problem from a consumer standpoint with our Realistic Magnesium Air Fuel System (RMAF), or through a national scale with our experience as a top alternative energy producer in Japan and Asia.”

Last year, the entire Latin American region’s solar power installation grew by 350 percent. The figures will continue to grow as governments are starting to realize renewable energy’s importance to an extent that they are now supporting its proliferation.

Just recently, Chile has proven that a strong support from the government, a good number of investors, and a sincere stance on battling the crisis could introduce large-scale improvements, a feat that could encourage other countries to follow suit.

See more:

Yes – Chile will build a hydropower plant in the desert

Costa Rica survived 255 days with almost 100 percent clean energy