Latin America Climate, Energy and Environment News: 7/23- 7/27/2012


While non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE) currently accounts for 3 percent of Chile’s electricity, there is a portfolio of new NCRE initiatives that would generate 8,749 megawatts of energy, three times the amount of the proposed HidroAysén project. There are 140 projects in the environmental assessment process that represent over US$22 billion in investment.  Such projects include the recently completed 90 megawatt, Valle de Los Vientos, wind farm in Loa province of northern region II.  Renewable generation injected into both grids increased 27 percent in June compared to May and by 173 percent compared to the same time last year. (Future Renewable 7/23/2012, Business News Americas 7/20/2012)

The chief operating officer of HidroAysén, Michel Moure, who was in charge of interacting with the community and presenting the design for the transmission line, announced his resignation after two years with the company. In this role, Moure sought to enhance work with local communities and organizations and strengthen HidroAysén’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments. The company has not made ​​an official statement about his resignation nor spoken about why he decided to leave the position. (La Tercera 7/26/2012)

The state-owned mining company, Codelco, announced a call for bids to purchase non-conventional renewable energy (NCRE) credits required for its operations. The decision is an effort to comply with a new law, which requires energy generators to supply a percentage of their energy with renewable sources.  Although the law applies to utilities, the corporation has chosen to bid directly to purchase NCRE, believing that this is the best way to comply with the law because the company can ensure that it is complying with the percentage standard at competitive prices. (Diario Financiero 7/27/2012)

On July 24, the city of Osorno in southern Chile was declared a “saturated zone” due to the high level of fine particulate matter in the air as a result of burning wet woodThis declaration is just the first step to reduce the current high levels of air pollution in Osorno. One of the first measures to decontaminate the city is to replace old heaters with dual-chamber heaters, which have higher heat efficiency and emit fewer pollutants into the air. The pilot program will give out 403 new heaters in two stages. Other efforts will include resources to enhance wood drying, improved home insulation, and efforts to encourage households to use dry wood only. (Soy Chile – Soy Osorno 7/23/2012)

Costa Rica

In an effort to achieve the country’s goal of becoming carbon neutral, Costa Rica has allied with Costa Rican physics company, Franklin Chang, as well as experts from Earth University to promote research efforts in new technologies and alternative energy sources.  The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (Minaet) is also part of the partnership, which will combine efforts and skills to meet the carbon neutral target. The four institutions will make available facilities, equipment, technicians, professionals, and teachers to support the research projects. Currently, 70 percent of carbon emissions in the country come from the burning of fossil fuels by vehicles, and an additional 12 percent comes from the production of electricity. (La Nacion 7/25/2012)

According to the Spanish company, Gas Natural Fenosa, construction of the 50 megawatt Torito hydropower plant is underway.  In 2008, the state electricity utility, ICE, awarded the group the construction and operation of the plant for 20 years. The project is located in the northeast of Costa Rica and will use water from the Reventazón River. It is scheduled to be operational in 2014. (Business News Americas 7/24/2012)

In an effort to reduce breeding sites for mosquitoes that may carry Dengue, Salud and the Holcim cement company have announced a joint campaign to collect and properly dispose of old tires. Large piles of tires have the potential to contain pools of water or be burned, which releases highly toxic fumes. Holcim will collect scrap tires and use them for fuel to make cement. (Inside Costa Rica 7/22/2012)


Demex has completed construction of the 90MW Piedra Larga wind farm in Mexico's Oaxaca state. The wind farm has been connected to the national grid via a substation and is undergoing testing. Despite slight delays due to weather and issues with land holdings, it will be fully operational by October. The farm's lifespan is between 25 and 30 years and the total cost of the project was approximately US$200 million. Demex is a fully owned local subsidiary of Spanish company Renovalia Energy, which is planning a second 138MW phase of the project. (Business News Americas 7/25/2012)

With the implementation of the second stage of the Sustainable Light Program, President Felipe Calderon was recognized by Guinness World Records for replacing 29.9 million light bulbs with new energy efficient bulbs. See pictures from the event here (SEMARNAT 7/26/2012). 

At an event this week, the head of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, said that the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) will emphasize the protection of natural resources and systematically address environmental issues with the help of a solid and well-defined political environment. Profepa will be tasked with assessing the country’s natural resources and be required to lead controlling and monitoring efforts. This year, Profepa led operations to combat illegal logging and illegal wildlife trafficking in 32 states. (SEMARNAT 7/23/2012)

This week’s news was compiled by Emily Jovais.

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.