Rapid growth but still below full potential

Wind power now exceeds a healthy looking 5GW of installed capacity in Latin America, doubling its tally over the past 18 months as the preferred renewable-energy choice for investment.

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Brazil and Mexico are maintaining their market leadership with annual installed capacity accounting for more than 50% and 25% respectively of the region's total output. Growth in other countries, despite some ambitious targets and plans, is rather more modest.

However, wind power is making some inroads into new smaller markets such as Uruguay. In Central America, it is becoming the most competitive technology option to transform the region's high dependency on fossil fuels. Wind energy is pushing down the average cost of electricy as it is awarded low-price contracts through various tendering processes, lower by far than spot and long-term electricity prices.

The annual installed capacity records in the region shows how this emerging technology is contributing to cutting fossil fuel consumption, particularly in those markets most dependent on it. It also has a direct effect on reducing reliance on electricity systems with high CO2 emission.

Politics lagging behind

Nevertheless, wind power suffers throughout the region from an absence of sound political and institutional vision of its full potential to contribute to energy supply and to drive economic growth and prosperity.

Its development is hampered by oversized restrictions still anchored in outdated myths. Action is required to reverse the investment atmosphere through sound policies in which the role of wind power can be fully addressed.

Ramon Fiestas chairs the Latin America Committee at the Global Wind Energy Council.

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