Latin America Green News: 10/24 - 11/9/2016

Melinka, Comuna de las Guaitecas, Aysén, Chile
Credit: Paula (Flickr: Palesp)

Uruguay launches electric vehicle charging network, Chile will become home to largest solar power generation plant in the world

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October 24 – November 9, 2016


A group of indigenous leaders from the Amazon basin came together to call for greater recognition and protections of their territorial rights as a tool to further enhance climate change and conservation measures in the region. The third Cumbre Amazónica held in Lima, Peru and organized by Coica, the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazonian Basin, focused on concerns that regional governments’ efforts against climate change were insufficient. Giving local villages greater territorial rights, they believe, will allow for greater checks on threats coming from deforestation, illegal logging and mining, and hydrocarbon exploitation. Economist Helen Ding of the World Resource Institute expressed support affirming that this collaboration between the government and local villages in Brazil could result in economic and environmental benefits ranging from US$523 million to US$1.165 billion over the next 20 years. (Ultima Hora, 10/28/16)


A virtual environmental collapse has been documented in the protected waters of the Las Guaitecas National Reserve, Chile, due to salmon farms’ heavy use of pesticides against a sea lice infestation. CODEFF, a local environmental NGO, has publicly denounced the salmon farming industry around the reserve in the Aysén region. The reserve has seen its waters questionably used for salmon farming at an increasing rate since 2010 with the number of farms increasing seven fold from five to 35 during that time. CODEFF has challenged the legality of the farms’ use of the protected waters at multiple levels with great concern over the planned relocation of 43 more farms into these waters. The organization believes that farming operations should be halted as their moves did not include a full environmental analysis and the reserve lacks a management plan or any infrastructure through which environmental protections can be enforced. (El Ciudadano, 10/26/16)


Latin America’s first national electric vehicle recharging network opened last week in Uruguay as the country hosted its first electric transportation fair. The network, locally known as SAVE, will have an initial route from Colonia to Chuy with recharging stations built every 60 kilometers. In the second phase, the network will extend to routes throughout the country. Government officials hope the effort will help increase the accessibility of electric vehicles and highlight their money-saving potential and environmental benefits. With national programs designed to help finance vehicle purchasing, and leasing along with cities like Montevideo providing a 50% discount on taxi medallions for new electric vehicles, Uruguay hopes to see a boost in the electrification of its transportation sector. (Republic, 10/27/16)

Colombia passed a law giving government employees an additional paid half vacation day for every 30 days in which they commute to work by bicycle. The law, which will come into full effect over the next two years, hopes to reduce traffic congestion in cities and mitigate the environmental impact of automotive transit. Bicycles are already popular in the country; in Bogotá officials estimate that more than 575,000 trips are made daily by bike. Yet the government also sees this law as an economic opportunity. The Ministry of Industry will introduce local incentives for the production and acquisition of bicycles in order to meet the increase in demand for bicycles which the ministry hopes will ultimately stimulate local manufacturing. (Infobae, 10/27/16)


Chile will be home to the world’s largest solar power generation plant in 2019. The project, known as Copiapó Solar, is a $2 billion USD project being led by SolarReserve and currently under construction in the Tarapacá region of northern Chile. As a hybrid system, it will take advantage of photovoltaic and solar concentrator systems with the goal of reducing the intermittency problems that often hinder renewable projects. When the plant comes online the hybrid system is expected to sustainably and competitively produce electricity 24 hours a day, providing constant power to the grid and producing over 1,800 GWh of power per year. (Energia Limpia XXI, 11/1/16)

Japan and the Inter-American Development bank are teaming up to support energy-related programs in Bolivia and Jamaica under a US $3 billion co-financing program. The program will support the development of geothermal power generation in Bolivia and is part of a greater effort to accelerate energy efficient and clean-powered infrastructure development in Latin America. Through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the country will also finance a US $25 million project in Ecuador that will help improve energy efficiency in energy transmission facilities. (Japan Times 11/1/2016)

El Salvador held their second ever renewable energy tender putting up for auction 100 MW of solar and 70 MW of wind power. 19 companies presented 25 proposed projects to the electricity distributor Delsur with the initial deadline for submission being extended due to great interest in the offering. Delsur expects this tender to result in a US $349 million investment and, once completed, provide power for approximately 280,000 homes. (PV Magazine, 10/28/16)

This week's blog was completed with the help of contributions from Alexis Lopez-Cepero.