Latin America and Caribbean
Clean power growing gradually
Fast growing wind and solar made up 11% of generation across Latin America in 2021, but hydro continues to provide the bulk of clean power, at 41%. Fossil fuels provide 41% of Latin America’s electricity.
Due to its large hydro resource and lower demand growth, Latin America has avoided creating a coal dependency in the way Asia has. Coal provided just 5% of the region’s electricity in 2021. There are relatively small amounts of coal power in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile, and there are nearly no new coal power plants planned.
Electricity demand is growing at a relatively low rate (+3.5% in 2021, compared to the global average of +5.4%), and per capita electricity consumption is generally below the global average (2.6 MWh in 2021 compared to the global average of 3.5 MWh). Over the last decade much of this demand has been met with growing gas generation, but wind and solar investment has been picking up, and now new clean electricity generation is meeting much of the rise in electricity demand. Carbon intensity is low, and very similar to a decade ago (262gCO2 per kWh in 2021, compared to the global average of 442g).
The regulatory framework in many Latin American countries for wind and solar is in a state of flux (see, for example, Ember’s analysis on Argentina here). Though the reliance on fossil gas in most Latin American countries is not very sizable (26% of supply across the region), it may become entrenched if new clean electricity cannot grow at a speed considered essential for meeting the region’s rising needs for electricity.
Last updated: March 2022