Hydroelectric power continues to play important role in Latin American energy mix, WEC says

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A recent report from the World Energy Council emphasizes hydroelectric power's role in helping Latin America and the Caribbean meet an increasing demand for energy.

Titled "World Energy Scenarios: Composing energy futures to 2050", the report presents two scenarios -- "Jazz" and "Symphony" -- that assess contrasting policy futures.

The Jazz scenario puts a greater consumer focus on achieving energy access, affordability and quality of supply using best-available energy sources. With this scenario, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region's economy will be 4.5 times larger than 2010 by 2050, while the total primary energy supply will grow by 2.3 times.

Meanwhile, the Symphony scenario presents a voter consensus on driving environmental sustainability and energy security through corresponding practices and policies. The World Energy Council said the LAC regional economy will grow less significantly through 2050 in this scenario, by nearly 3.8 times, while the total primary energy supply will grow by nearly 1.8 times.

In both scenarios, providing an adequate supply of energy will be difficult.

"Our study finds that even in the best case, the growth of energy supply in the region will still be insufficient to meet the rising energy demand associated with economic growth," said Professor Karl Rose, Senior Director of the WEC study.

Optimizing the energy market structure will be crucial in decreasing the gap between supply and demand, Rose said, with fragmentation of the LAC region's market being a major hurdle.

"This fragmentation has been hindering the effective use of energy resources nationally and across the region, and has compromised the competitiveness of national energy markets," Rose said. "The region will continue to struggle with energy supply problems unless concrete measures are made to integrate its energy markets."

Meeting the future power demand will require between US$1.33 trillion to $1.36 trillion in cumulative investments through 2050, according to the WEC.

"As with the rest of the world, the energy sector in Latin America and the Caribbean is facing unprecedented uncertainty and challenges," said Jose Antonio Vargas Lleras, WEC Vice-Chair for the LAC region.

Though WEC acknowledged that building the necessary infrastructure will be a "major challenge", the organization said large hydroelectric projects will "continue to dominate the energy mix until 2050".

WEC will now conduct a more detailed study of Latin America using select countries.

"The impact of water as a scarce resource and the role of large hydropower in the region are amongst the themes that will be examined in depth," WEC said.

Findings from the study will be released during the WEC's annual Executive Assembly in October.

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