Wind and solar drive growth of clean power in Latin America

Chief Europe Correspondent
Source: International Energy Agency, Latin American Energy Outlook 2023 • Latin America includes South and Central American countries. The analysis also includes countries in the Caribbean. Fossil fuels includes oil, coal and natural gas. Other includes bioenergy, geothermal, marine and tidal energy, non-renewable waste and battery storage capacity additions.

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have some of the lowest-emission electricity systems in the world and the growth of wind and solar could clean up the grids even more, according to a recent report from the International Energy Agency.

Hydropower is the dominant renewable energy source in the region’s electricity mix at 45% of total generation. Wind energy accounts for 8% and solar energy for 4%. Fossil fuels account for 36% of power generation. The data in the report is from 2022.

While wind and solar still represent small percentages in the overall power mix, “wind and solar PV capacity additions have been accelerating sharply in recent years,” representing more than half of annual capacity additions in the last three years, according to the report.

At the same time, the share of fossil fuels added to the grid has been declining, with almost no construction of coal-fired or oil-fired power plants in recent years.

Outside of electricity, however, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean still rely heavily on fossil fuels to meet other energy needs, the IEA writes. Oil remains the main fuel used in the region, with demand driven by the transport and industry sectors.