Renewable Energy Reigns in Latin America

Latin American countries are taking commitment to renewable energy to the next level. The progress of many underdeveloped Latin American countries in reducing carbon emissions and increasing their use of solar and wind energy systems is unparalleled by nations who have more resources. How, then, are these countries with fewer resources doing so well implementing renewable energy systems? Find out this week as we explore the reasons behind Latin America’s investment in renewable energy and which countries are exceeding expectations.

Reasons for Investing in Renewable Energy

One of the main reasons Latin American countries have decided to invest in renewable energy is to combat natural disasters and provide relief to citizens. We’ve written previous blogs about the ways solar power was used to provide aid after hurricanes ravaged certain areas in 2017. Hurricane Maria totalled Puerto Rico, the entire island of Barbuda had to be evacuated as 95% of its structures were lost to Hurricane Irma, both of those hurricanes tore through the Virgin Islands, and Hurricanes Katia and Franklin hit the Mexican coast within 60 miles of one another. September of 2017 went down as the month with the most hurricane activity in recorded history, as Hurricanes Irma, Maria, Katia, Lee, and Jose obliterated areas with high winds, debris, flooding, and devastation. As millions of dollars in energy resources were destroyed in the storms, renewable energy has become an important way to provide people with essentials like clean water and electricity for cooking and clean-up equipment. Using renewable energy is both a way to repair communities and help deter further damage to the planet, which many scientists agree was an underlying cause of 2017’s unusual weather patterns. Many countries have also made commitments to implement renewable energy. So the storms, in some ways, forced certain governments to follow up quickly on those commitments. Since the storms ruined much of the infrastructure countries had in place to provide energy, solar and wind power became the best options from only potential alternatives.

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What Countries are Setting Best Examples

Certain countries are truly taking their renewable energy strategies to new heights. For example, Costa Rica has run on 100% renewable energy for two months, on two separate occasions. In fact, the country ran entirely on renewable energy for 250 days in 2016. Renewable energy accounted for over 90% of Costa Rica’s energy use for that year. That dwarfs the just under 15% renewable energy use in the United States. Another key player from Latin America which has made great strides in renewable energy is Uruguay. The country once relied heavily on hydropower, or water power, but droughts in recent years have crippled their power supplies. So, wind power became the new solution! They implemented a policy which incentivized producers or wind energy to start before 2015 by offering to pay producers more by producing power before that date. Any producer looking to build after 2015 would be paid less. Unsurprisingly, this incentive worked. By putting power into the hands of scientists and innovators in the renewable energy field, Uruguay was able to completely revamp their energy production in under a decade.

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