Mapping potential

Adequate mapping of Latin America's wind resource is being pursued by a variety of countries in the region. In Brazil, the mines and energy secretariat of southern Rio Grande do Sul state is developing a wind measuring program along with state-owned utility CEEE, and RGE and AES Sul from the private sector; in Panama transmission company Etesa is working with consultant Lahmeyer International to map its resources; Chilean and Peruvian authorities are working on projects in their respective countries; and there are a number of smaller, privately-funded studies in other countries.

Only when the maps are complete will claims of wind potential in the gigawatt range be easier to prove. Optimism on the size of the potential abounds.

Brazilian estimates range from 6000 MW for the northeast alone, of which the mines and energy ministry estimates that 1000 MW could be in operation by 2005, to 28,000 MW for the country as a whole.

Argentina, meanwhile, could step up its 14 MW installed wind capacity and generate over 1000 MW by 2012, says Roque Pedace of the International Network for Sustainable Energy, quoting not only the network's own estimates but also those of other organisations.