Bright Outlook for Wind Power in Latin America



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Renewable Energy World

Having just concluded the 9th edition of Brazil Windpower in Rio de Janeiro (7-9 August) and on the eve of the 1st edition of Argentina Windpower (6-7 September in Buenos Aires), it seems a good time to have a look at the Latin American (including Mexico) market as a whole, to see how far it’s come in the last ten years, but also what the growth potential is for the future.

Ten years ago, the market didn’t really exist. Total installations during 2007 in the region amounted to 30 MW, to bring total installed capacity up to 537 MW, about half of which was in Brazil. The rest was scattered about in mostly single projects in half a dozen countries. At the end of 2017, total installed capacity was just about 22,000 MW, still dominated by Brazil with nearly 13,000 MW, but with substantial markets in Mexico, Chile and Uruguay, and a major market developing in Argentina. Peru, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama have small but interesting markets, and there are indications that Colombia could develop a prominent wind market in the coming years.

After a number of attempts to stimulate the market after the ‘energy crisis’ in Brazil at the turn of the millennium, the Brazilian market finally took off at the end of 2009 with the first reverse auction for wind power, which contracted more than 1,800 MW, and set the stage for the remarkable growth of the Brazilian industry over the next several years. The controversial rules for local content set by the BNDES (Brazilian National Bank for Sustainable Development) meant that many major OEMs opened factories in the country, at a time when the international market was stagnating due to the international financial crisis.