By: Melanie Diaz, Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
In the face of rising global temperatures, glacial retreat, and ocean acidification, sustainable development of renewable resources has become more important than ever before. However, recent advancements in solar energy could potentially lead to a solution that would feature the role of Latin American countries. According to GTM Research, a division of Greentech Media, the solar photovoltaic (PV) market in Latin America grew 370 percent in 2014, due to 625 megawatts (MW) worth of installations developed throughout the region during the year. Latin America is the “fastest-growing solar market in history”. This rate even surpasses the entire European solar market growth rate of 60 percent between 2007 and 2011.
In the face of global warming, the region’s countries have begun to look toward solar energy to improve energy security and environmental health. This turn toward solar energy is a good option for Latin American countries considering that a majority of the region falls along the equatorial line, giving it access to a great deal of the world’s sunlight. In 2013, GTM Research had predicted that the Latin American solar market could grow 66 percent annually. But with the 370 percent increase in 2014, it seems that the area can harvest even more solar energy than even experts previously expected. While countries like Chile, Mexico, and Brazil have become regional leaders in solar energy, they are not the only crucial players. Smaller countries, such as Uruguay, Peru, and Costa Rica, have also boasted notable rates in renewable energy.
But Why Solar Energy?
Solar energy is perhaps the most expeditious solution to help Latin America in its quest for energy security. The production of solar energy does not release the toxic pollutants or dangerous emissions.
A primary issue with solar power is that solar plants require large amounts of land space, however large solar plants be built in areas with poor soil, in order to limit their negative impact on Latin America’s agricultural business. Furthermore, small solar power installations could be built on limited commercial and/or private building sites, further limiting the negative effect of solar energy plants on agricultural lands.
A second major concern is the large quantity of water necessary for the cooling system process at solar plants. One solution to this issue, however, is dry-cooling, a technique that uses air instead of water to lower plant temperatures.
While there may be manufacturing and storage issues associated with solar power, the repercussions of other renewable energy sources can have far greater consequences.
For more information: http://www.coha.org/solar-energy-lights-up-in-latin-america/