The population of this region is more than 600 million, and growing at 1% per year. GDP more than doubled between 1990 and 2015, and electricity demand is expected to double by 2030. The region has the lowest carbon emissions from power generation, however 15 million people across the region still lack access to electricity.
Latin America is encouraging low-carbon growth, and derives more than 200 gigawatts (GW) of its power, 56% of the total, from renewables, in particular large-scale hydropower and biomass. The region’s greenhouse gas emissions from energy use historically have been low as a result. Solar, geothermal and wind now comprise more than 10 GW of installed capacity.
Total investment in power generation reached almost USD 120 billion between 2010 and 2015, including USD 38 billion for large-scale hydropower. Costs for renewable energy technologies have fallen to the extent that solar and onshore wind power no longer need financial support to compete with conventional power generation in a growing number of Latin American countries. Recent auctions in Mexico, Peru and Chile produced highly competitive prices, such as a successful bid to produce power using solar PV in Peru at a record low of USD 48 per megawatt hour (MWh).
Rapid cost reductions, maturing technologies and further reforms to renewable energy policies offer an unprecedented opportunity to further tap the vast renewable energy potential in the region.