Latin America Green News: renewables get a push in Chile, a case for wetland conservation in Costa Rica, saving the vaquita in Mexico, wind power potential in Central America
Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.
February 2-February 8, 2013
“Caring for our energy together” will be the slogan of Chile’s Energy Efficiency Expo AChEE 2013, which will be held in Santiago in March. The Expo will bring together key stakeholders from the supply and demand side to showcase newly available technologies and promote possible actions that both households and businesses can undertake to achieve greater energy efficiency. The business sector globally may be able to derive several important lessons from a new energy efficiency project implemented in one of the world’s most well-known edifices—the Empire State Building. One year since the building underwent a retrofit in 2011, its energy use has declined by nearly 40%, representing a savings of $2.4 million. (Electricidad 2/6/2013; Pulso 2/7/2013)
The Chilean northern electricity grid can gain 700 MW of capacity from non-conventional renewable sources this year, according to a report published by CDEC-SING. This includes 355.5 MW from solar (photovoltaic) energy and 345 MW of wind power. However it’s likely that the technical complexity of connecting to the grid may delay the start of operations of several of these projects. (Estrategia 2/8/2013)
Non-conventional renewable energy in Chile is getting a push from Rafael Mateo, former CEO of Endesa Chile and current director of ACCIONA Energia. The formerly staunch supporter of the hydroelectric project HidroAysen has recently shifted toward non-conventional renewable energy, backing solar and wind as the most promising energy sources for Chile’s future and questioning the indirect subsidies given to hydroelectric power. (El Diario de Aysén 2/6/2013)
Elvis Valdes, a member of the Cochrane City Council has published a harsh letter in El Mercurio, reproaching a group of citizens in Chile’s Aysen region that have criticized Bishop Luis Infanti for aiming to halt the development of the controversial HidroAysen project. Siting several inconsistencies in plans to relocate local residents, among other alleged offenses, the Councilor states that “those that have signed the letter supporting [Endesa] and expressing opposition to the Bishop’s sentiments clearly don’t know the reality that we live in southern Aysen.” (El Dínamo 2/5/2013)
Wetlands protection benefits coastal communities by ensuring access to adequate water supply and primary materials, as well as livelihoods through eco-tourism, claims a new report titled “The economics of ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands” published by the Ramsar Secretariat. Costa Rica contains 12 sites that form part of the Ramsar Convention—an intergovernmental treaty that promotes the sustainable management of wetlands through national action and international cooperation—covering approximately 10% of the country. (El Financiero 2/8/2013)
The national registry of protected areas is out-of-date, reports an audit performed by the Comptroller General of the Republic within the Ministry of Energy and the Environment. Sixty-one protected areas are missing from the National Natural Heritage registry, while the area of 14 is incorrect, representing a discrepancy of over 126,190 square kilometers. This lack of accuracy provokes errors in the calculation of land value and serves as a disincentive for registration. (El Financiero 2/8/2013)
On February 6, the Municipal Council of San Jose declared the San Jose canton to be free of genetically modified products. The unanimous decision was taken to promote public health, ensure biodiversity, and safeguard food security. The San Jose decision follows similar declarations by 26 other cantons, a movement that began in Paraiso de Cartago in 2005. (El País 2/5/2013)
Juan José Guerra Abud, the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, has created a commission to advise the president on the protection of the vaquita—a rare species of porpoise traditionally found in the northern Gulf of California. The commission will propose environmental, economic, and social actions to prevent the cetacean’s extinction and outline strategies to revive the population, which is currently critically endangered. (El Sol de México 2/6/2013)
According to the Director General of the 2013 International Electricity Expo, Mexico’s efforts to develop sustainable and renewable energy has placed it fourth among the world’ leaders in the promotion of clean energy. Although the country has made great technical strides toward energy sustainability, it still lacks the personnel to perform many of the innovative electrical installations. To begin addressing this issue, the upcoming Expo Electrica Norte, which will take place in Monterrey in March, will include special seminars to certify workers in electrical installation. (Diario de Yucatán 2/7/2013)
Mexico’s National Forestry Program (CONAFOR) is seeking to revitalize the country’s forest economy in 2013 and reduce deforestation and forest degradation with a new injection of funding and technical expertise. The program plans to sign fire cooperation agreements with individual states and the Federal District in order to strengthen the transmission of technical competencies and aims create 27,000 jobs in the forest sector through conservation initiatives and sustainable use projects. (SEMARNAT Press Release 2/7/2013)
Wind power has incredible growth potential in Latin America, claims the CEO of the Danish firm Vestas. Central America and the Caribbean, in particular, have heightened appetite for renewable energy as the regions’ power generation relies heavily on diesel, which is dirty and unsustainable, and a limited amount of hydroelectric sources, which are highly cyclical. Complementing this is a very favorable financial environment, including high liquidity in the banking and investment sector. (El País 2/8/2013)
This week’s news was compiled by Maria Belenky.