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Esta vez el sol y el viento lideran la revolución en América Latina

Mapas de recurso eólico y solar en América Central y Suramérica (resultados preliminares del estudio Red del Futuro del BID).

Mapas de recurso eólico y solar en América Central y Suramérica (resultados preliminares del estudio Red del Futuro del BID).

El año 2015 se perfila como el más caliente de la historia reciente de la humanidad.  Y justo el próximo 11 de Diciembre sabremos si más de 190 países pudieron llegar a un acuerdo para limitar la emisión de gases de efecto invernadero y frenar este calentamiento. La realidad científica muestra que para disminuir el aumento de temperatura se necesita un cambio radical en la forma como producimos y consumimos energía. Los cálculos son simples, si se queman el carbón, gas y petróleo que aún se encuentran debajo de la superficie, se emitirán tantas emisiones que pasaremos el umbral de lo que la comunidad científica mundial considera como seguro para no estar expuestos a los riesgos y consecuencias negativas del calentamiento.

Dos terceras partes de las todas las emisiones que generan el cambio climático provienen del sector energía, de ahí el papel tan importante que puedan asumir las energías limpias como las renovables para garantizar un futuro sostenible. ¿Pero cuál es exactamente su potencial? Es decir, ¿qué tanta radiación solar o velocidad de viento están disponibles para producir electricidad?

La mayoría de los países en Latinoamérica ha realizado evaluaciones de su potencial de renovables, pero en cada caso con distintos niveles de detalle y con datos de entrada distintos, dificultando una comparación adecuada del recurso a nivel regional. Es por esto que el BID ha querido investigar cuál sería el nivel superior de energía solar y eólica que podrían llegar a explotar los países. El análisis fue hecho por un consorcio de especialistas encabezados por la reconocida firma AWS de Estados Unidos, que junto con otras instituciones como la Universidad de Chile, Quantum y Energy Exemplar, se encuentran trabajando en un proyecto patrocinado por el BID sobre la red eléctrica más sostenible para el futuro de nuestra región.

El primer paso del proyecto identifica el potencial de energía solar y eólica en cada país. Los datos de entrada que se usaron fueron mapas de velocidades de viento y de radiación solar representando las condiciones promedio a largo plazo derivados de observaciones de satélite. Se excluyeron áreas protegidas y de alto valor ambiental para la instalación de plantas solares o eólicas gracias a una de las mejores bases de datos en la actualidad creada también por el BID. Otros supuestos importantes incluyen en el caso de la eólica sitios con factores de planta mayor al 35% y para la solar una radiación mínima de 175W/m2garantizando una rentabilidad adecuada de los proyectos.

La buena noticia es que los resultados preliminares del análisis nos muestra un inmenso potencial al alcance de nuestros países. En el caso de eólica aún sólo aprovechando un 10% del potencial se podrían generar en los 21 países analizados de Centro y Suramérica hasta 11300 TWh de electricidad con el viento. Para poner en perspectiva este número lo podemos comparar con el consumo total de electricidad de estos mismos países el cual asciende a unos 1400 TWh por año (2014), lo que quiere decir que el potencial eólico es casi 8 veces el consumo total de electricidad.  En el caso de la energía solar el potencial sería incluso superior, unas 14 veces el consumo total de esta región.

Existen naturalmente grandes diferencias regionales entre países, los “campeones” del viento cuyo potencial es más de 30 veces su propio consumo de electricidad serían Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia y Guyana, y estos mismos países también figuran en los primeros lugares en cuanto a potencial solar respecto a su consumo interno. En Centroamérica el potencial solar es muy halagador para Nicaragua y México. Seguiremos pendientes de publicar nuevos resultados del estudio que muestra que aún aprovechando sólo un 10% del potencial de dos energías renovables tenemos grandes oportunidades de aprovechamiento y contribución a la mitigación del cambio climático de una manera limpia y sostenible.


Esta columna fue originalmente publicada en el Blog Energía para el futuro del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo BID.

 

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