Examining the decreasing share of renewable energy amid growing thermal capacity: The case of South America

Peer Reviewed
29 February 2020

S. Arango-Aramburo, J.P. Ríos-Ocampo, E.R. Larsen

Concerns about climate change have required energy policy to be reconsidered around the world. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy has the potential to contribute significantly to the goals of the Paris Agreement (2015), particularly in the developing world. The recent evolution of total installed capacity of electricity mix in eight South American countries and the current renewable energy policy is considered. Indications of an energy paradox are seen: the installed share of thermal capacity increases as energy demand grows, decreasing the share of renewable energy despite the government's stated policy and commitment to increasing renewables in electricity generation through incentives and regulations. The share of installed hydro compared to thermal generation declined from 2007 to 2017 in Chile, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. Furthermore, South American countries are unlikely to reach the aforementioned share of renewables in the energy matrix, with the exception of Uruguay. Thus, organic growth of renewables may not be enough in a region with high potential and a long history of low emissions from electricity. It may be necessary for governments to more actively prioritize, regulate, and support inclusive subsidies for both public and private investors in the electricity sector to reduce the risk of climate change and achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals.


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Publication reference
Arango-Aramburo, S., Ríos-Ocampo, J. P., & Larsen, E. R. (2020). Examining the decreasing share of renewable energy amid growing thermal capacity: The case of South America. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 119, 109648. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2019.109648

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Publication | 19 May 2020