China eyes up Latin America's renewables market

By the Potencia correspondent

Chinese companies are looking to get a slice of Latin America's market for renewable energy. Several projects such as wind farms, hydroelectric plants and solar power plants are being built in the region and many of them are being financed by Chinese money or built thanks to Chinese technology.

The Asian Giant appears to be determined to expand its influence in Latin American countries and renewable power is key in this region.

Latin America's geography undoubtedly offers favourable conditions for generating so-called green power without damaging the environment. Plentiful rivers, lots of sunshine and strong winds make the New World an excellent source of renewable energy.

Chinese companies are aware of the key role that Latin America can play in the world’s new low-carbon energy era and is turning its attention on the region.

Despite being the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter – reflecting in part its population that now exceeds 1340 million - China is also where the greatest investment in renewable energy is being made.

In 2010, China invested around $54bn in renewables, according to a study from US-based Pew Environmental Group. This far exceeds the money that was invested by Germany and the US.

China is also the world's biggest producer of solar cell, with JA Solar Holdings Company and Suntech Power Holdings Company being among the main companies. Investing in Latin America's renewable energy market now provides Chinese manufacturing companies with the opportunity to take their products into a whole new market.

In recent months, the Mexican press reported that Sinaloa state's governor signed an agreement with the SCAC Investment Ltd of China to build a 100 MW solar power plant. Mexican newspaper Sexenio said that the project will cost about $1.2bn. The agreement between Sinaloa government and the SCAC Investment has been hailed as a positive way to create jobs in the state.

Hydropower stations are another target for Chinese investments in Latin America.

Last summer, state-owned Export–Import Bank of China (Eximbank) granted Ecuador’s government $571m in credit to build the Sopladora dam. Chinese company Ge Zhouba Group and Ecuadorean FOPECA will jointly construct the dam, with the required equipment and machinery coming from China. This hydroelectric dam will generate 486 MW of much-needed electricity, according to Ecuadorean newspaper El Tiempo.

The Andean countries are receiving increasing investments in renewable energy from China.

State company Sinomach is said to be ready to finance and build Bolivia’s first wind farm. The 21 MW wind farm will be located in a natural gas producing area, with the aim that it will help the country become less dependent on gas for its generation of electricity, thereby enabling it to take greater advantage of the lucrative gas export market, according to the Associated Press.

In Argentina and Brazil, the Chinese influence is also growing. Chinese company Guodian Technology and Environment Group is currently searching for partners in Latin America to build wind farms and solar power plants, according to Reuters.

While in neighboring Chile, several Chinese companies are investigating the potential of investing in new renewable energy projects. China is Chile’s first non-Latin American commercial partner.

Latin America’s growing demand for energy presents great opportunities for both investors and technologists from countries outside of the region. And China, Asia’s giant, looks set to take full advantage of this, especially in the renewable energy sector.

For more Latin America news.

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