Climate, Energy and Environment News from Latin America: 1.3 - 1.7.2011


In 2010, thermal energy displaced hydro as the major source of energy generation for the Chilean Central Interconnected System.  Coal, natural gas, and diesel supplied over 50% of energy consumed while hydropower accounted for 48%.  This trend is expected to continue in 2011 if current water shortage conditions persist. (El Mercurio, 1/4/11)  Last year’s drought created a 26% increase in thermal generation as compared to 2009. (El Mercurio, 1/3/11)

President Piñera is urging the approval of standards to regulate emissions from thermal electric power plants (Diario Financiero, 1/5/11) even though the proposal is facing resistance from certain business groups such as the Confederation of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Production and Commerce of Concepción (CPCC).  The CPCC,  a trade association with partners such as Endesa, Colbún, and Suez Energy, released an environmental report raising objectives to the regulatory framework.  Their concerns include that the rules only target one sector of emissions, lack a mercury standard, and do not take into account the location of the plant. (El Mercurio, 1/6/11)

A little over a year after entering into force, major power producers met the 5% “green power” production standard through wind or small scale hydro projects or simply buying the energy on the market.  The law requires generators with an installed capacity of greater than 200 megawatts to produce 5% of energy through non-conventional renewable means with fines of about $15, 000 for each megawatt-hour it doesn’t meet.  (La Tercera, 1/7/11)

Transantiago will light up 3,700 bus stops with solar panels to provide more security to passengers as they wait for transport.  The cost of the installation will be 5,000 million pesos. (El Mercurio, 1/7/11)  

Costa Rica:

The Regional Energy Efficiency Strategy initiative led by Bun-ca has reported an energy savings of 9368 MWh over the past six years, equivalent to 4992 tons of carbon dioxide, by working with 190 companies in the industrial and commercial sectors to become more energy efficient.   Recently UNEP’s En.lighten study estimated that Costa Rica could save 276,000 MWh and $27.6 million per year if they changed all light bulbs to CFLs.  The cost of this change was estimated to be $22.63 million.  (El Financiero CR, 1/3/11)

Costa Rica’s Environmental Tribunal reported that 2010 showed an 83% increase in environmental complaints from 2009.  Key problems included deforestation and protected areas.  About half of the cases were located in the Osa peninsula with a large number of complaints also regarding the Puntarenas province.  (El Financiero CR, 1/3/11)

An editorial in La Nación points out that despite 2010 being one of the wettest years in Costa Rica in recent decades, the nation still used 49% more fossil fuels then the previous year. The editorial calls for Costa Rica to rethink its national energy policy and boost generation from geothermal sources which are largely found in national parks. (La Nación, 1/6/11)

The “German House” that won the Solar Decathlon will visit Costa Rica in from March 9 – 23. During the same time the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry will host a Sustainability Fair for foreign companies to offer energy efficiency options applicable to Costa Rica.  During the fair there will also be roundtables related to energy efficiency and renewable energy, including discussions of appropriate policies. (El Financiero CR, 1/6/11)


The National Forest Commission under SEMARNAT is seeking to reduce Mexico’s deforestation rate to 0 in the next five to ten years.  The main challenge to the goal is that 80% of forests are located in areas where it is more profitable for residents to turn the forest into agricultural land, accounting for 48% of deforestation. (Milenio, 1/4/11)

Governor Marco Adame Castillo submitted a proposal for the creation of a State Commission of Biodiversity (COESBIO) with the help of the National Commission for Knowledge and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) and a proposed budget of 2 million pesos. (La Crónica de Hoy, 1/5/11)

The Mexican government is planning to invest four billion dollars to build a one thousand megawatt renewable energy storage facility in Northern Mexico.   The facility will use a special kind of sodium sulfide batteries for the project which is expected to be completed in the next six years.  (Clean Techies, 1/6/11)

Note: The linked articles and excerpts in this post are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Natural Resources Defense Council.