Wind power gains strength in Latin America

By the Potencia correspondent
Wind has never been as popular as it is now in Latin America. Thanks to the increase the use of alternative sources of energy, the construction of wind farms has been growing in the region and, according to some experts, it is expected to continue to increase in the coming years.
In Costa Rica, for example, a consortium of Italian investors, led by Valerio Catullo, has plans to produce energy harnessing the excellent wind conditions found in the Guanacaste province.
The investment project, known as the Montes de Oro wind energy project, is expected to produce up to 20 MW of power, comprising eight wind turbines covering an area of 105 hectares, according to La Nacion newspaper.
This is not the first wind farm to be built in Central America. Costa Rica has several project underway and five wind farms are already operational (totaling 116 MW), according to press reports.
Some of the projects are being constructed in the district of Guayabo de Bagaces (also known as Mogote de Bagaces). Here, three companies are in advanced talks to obtain permits for the Eolico Guayabo, Los Leones and El Quijote projects.
Eolico Guayabo will comprise 50 wind turbines, while Los Leones is expected to generate in the region of 27 MW and become operational by the end of 2013 or early in 2014.
This Central American nation is not the only one pursuing wind energy programmes. In Brazil, for example, wind energy development has made a significant contribution to the finances of American conglomerate General Electric (GE).
The company has won over 800 MW in future commitments from the installation of wind turbines in the country, a factor that has contributed to its income - 2.5 per cent comes from Brazil alone.
“[Wind energy] is a great opportunity not only for GE but also for Brazil. We had two auctions in the last 12 months and we were able to win about 20 per cent of both,” Joao Geraldo Ferreira, president of GE, told Reuters during the recent Global Economic Forum on Latin America.
Venezuela’s first wind farm has reportedly started producing electricity. The project, which is being built by Spanish firm Gamesa and state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), is located in the semi-arid area of La Guajira in the state of Zulia near the border with Colombia.
The project is expected to be fully completed during the first half of this year when its 24 wind turbines will produce 30 MW. In the same region, authorities hope to increase capacity to 400 MW.
In Mexico, President Felipe Calderón inaugurated the Rumorosa I wind farm in Baja California last year, which currently contributes 80 per cent of the power required for the public lighting system in Mexicali.
Uruguay received 21 offers to develop wind farms, according to Ramon Mendez, director of the country's state-controlled power company UTE. He also said that by 2015 it was hoped that wind farms could produce 70 per cent of the needed energy on days when conditions were favourable.
Wind farms not only appear to have the financial backing but also public seem to prefer wind power over other energy sources.
In Argentina, a survey by environmental pressure group Greenpeace revealed 64 per cent of participants would prefer that the financing dedicated to its Atucha II nuclear plant was used to develop wind energy programmes instead.
Argentina is already developing its wind power sector. The country currently has 32.2 MW of installed wind capacity, including a wind farm in Arauco with 12 wind turbines that generate 2.1 MW each. In 2010, Impsa won a contract to double its generation output to 50 MW.
Colombia is also has seen by many to have a great future when it comes to wind energy. During a visit to Germany, Columbian president Juan Manuel Santos, said: “The share of the wind energy market is insignificant at the moment, but the potential is enormous.”
The same could be said for many of Latin America’s nations.

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