The Republic of Chile has now become the leader of renewable energy in Latin America. The country has no oil resources and has always struggled to produce energy; until now. Acres of solar panels now soak up the intense sunlight in the Atacama Desert with the South America’s most ambitious (and only) geothermal plant tapping into the neighboring volcanoes thermal energy.
Andres Rebolledo, Chile’s Energy Minister, states that “Accelerated technological changes have made these renewable energy sources much more competitive for generating electricity than fossil fuels.” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet states that Chile is on track to become 70% reliant on green energy by 2050, almost double the rate now.
However, there are even more benefits to harnessing solar energy from the desert. It does not have to displace communities or flood fertile fields which are consequences of building a hydro-electric dam. The nearby town of Ollague is already reaping benefits as they are now with electricity for 24 hours a day.
The attractive geography of Chile has created incentives for green energy investors that will surely boost the country’s economy. Perhaps the United States can take a page out of Chile’s green energy book by investing in huge solar farms in the Mojave Desert, tapping into Hawaii’s many volcanoes for geothermal energy, or even creating wind farms in the prairie lands of Kansas and Oklahoma. Either way, we need makes strides to reduce out dependence on fossil fuels and there is no better time than the present.