Latin America mining blue gold


Some of the world's major hydropower plants are located in Latin America, a continent that generates 20 percent of total global hydropower production and has by far the highest share of the technology in its energy mix of anywhere in the world.

With the notable exception of China, Latin America is the region in which hydropower has grown at the fastest pace over the last three decades, and this rate of expansion is set to last. According to a recent report published by the World Energy Council, energy demand in the region will almost quadruple by 2050 (increasing by as much as 4.5 times by some of the most optimistic estimates), and hydropower will continue to have the lion's share of the energy mix over the next 35 years.

Hydropower is capable of providing a huge amount of energy and is aided by and important for renewable energy storage, a technology that helps its more widespread diffusion of more intermittent forms of green energy production (and in particular wind power).

The Enel Group plays a leading role both in this technology and in this part of the world: it's present in Colombia with just under 2.5 gigawatts of installed capacity, Peru (750 megawatts), Brazil (665MW), Chile (3.5GW) and Argentina (1.3GW). It also has 8.7GW of capacity through facilities managed by its subsidiary Endesa, and 732MW managed by Enel Green Power in Mexico (53MW), Guatemala (163MW), Costa Rica (31MW), Panama (300MW), Brazil (93MW) and Chile (92MW).

In Costa Rica EGP is building the Chucás hydropower plant, which has an installed capacity of 50MW and when fully operational will generate about 219 million kilowatt-hours each year, while construction of the new Apiacás group of hydro plants recently began in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Apiacás will consist of three facilities – Salto Apiacás, Cabeza de Boi and Fazenda – that will be built in a cascade structure, have seven 14.5MW turbines and a total installed capacity of 102MW. Once operational the plants will generate up to about 490 gigawatt-hours per year.