Latin America Green News: Renewables in Mexico, New Blow to HidroAysén, Peru Climate Strategy

Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

August 16th – August 22nd, 2014

Biodiversity & Environment

In a new blow to HidroAysén, the mega-dam project whose permits where recently overturned by Chile’s government, the Minister of Environment, Pablo Badenier, has asked the head of the Water Directorate to protect the water reserves in the Baker and Pascua Rivers’ watersheds. Among the reasons the minister gave for this request was the presence of threatened freshwater species in the habitat. Badenier’s request came days after the Comptroller (Contraloría) ordered the Water Directorate to rule on the request HidroAysén filed several years ago for additional water rights on those rivers. This request also runs counter to the Minister of Energy’s plans to evaluate and prioritize rivers in the Patagonian region of Aysén for hydroelectric development. (El Pulso, 8/21/2014)

A new study by the National University of Costa Rica reveals that peccaries located in the Osa Peninsula are critically endangered. An NGO is developing a program to help their chances of survival as a species by importing peccaries from outside areas, which will improve their genetic variability and reduce congenital diseases. According to local estimates, there are between 30 and 70 animals remaining at Corcovado National Park (CR Hoy, 08/18/2014)

Renewable Energy

With private generation now allowed in Mexico’s electricity sector, Greenwood Energy and Illios have announced a plan to invest US$ 500 million in solar distributed generation projects. The companies expect to develop over 250 MW in new projects by 2017 by installing solar panels on the rooftops of companies and selling them the energy generated at 17 percent to 20 percent below the rates of the state power utility. (OEM/EL Sol de México, 8/22/014)

Meanwhile, the beverage company, FEMSA, predicts that by the end of 2015, 85 percent of its operations in Mexico will use renewable energy, primarily wind power. FEMSA expects to meet this goal through a variety of initiatives including 20 year power purchase agreements for wind power and a “Smart Store System” that helps the company reduce energy consumption by 14 percent. (El Financiero, 8/19/2014)

In Costa Rica, the first disbursement of the $645 million credit line the legislature signed with Japan last year is moving forward. On August 18, Costa Rica signed an agreement with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency for a $550 million loan. This loan will fund three geothermal projects in the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja volcano in Guanacaste province. Each project looks to generate 55 MW of power, a combined 4 percent of national electricity needs. (Caracol Radio, 8/18/2014)

Climate Change

In Peru, the Ministry of Environment has extended by ten days the deadline for public comments on the proposed National Climate Change Strategy that was first released in draft form on July 24. Previously, local groups had expressed concern at the limited comment period and the strategy’s lack of specific policies or goals. Local groups, in particular, Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales have urged Peru’s government to pass comprehensive climate legislation. Making the connection between human development and climate change in Peru, the organization pointed to the need for the government to address climate change cross-institutionally and with instruments including a National Climate Change Strategy, National Information System on Climate Change Vulnerabilities, and a national climate change report where institutions and the public can access information on progress  made on implementing climate change polices and financing. (Ministerio de Ambiente Peru, 8/22/2014; Gestión, 8/22/2014; Inforegion, 8/20/14)

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