Mexico City's new $11 billion international airport, expected to open in 2019 and eventually become Latin America's largest airport, will be covered with a solar roof that will maximize the penetration of light and partly power the terminal.
Meanwhile, in Chile a 100-megawatt solar power facility to be completed next year will supply 60 percent of the power to Santiago's underground railway network—the second largest subway in Latin America, serving more than 2.2 million passengers a day. It will be the first public transportation system in the world to run mostly on solar energy.
From Mexico's northern border to the southern tip of South America, the push for solar and wind energy generation in Latin America is flourishing. Some renewable energy plants have existed in Latin America for years, and hydroelectricity has so dominated Brazil's energy market that the country faced drought-induced energy rationing. But technological changes in the last seven years have lowered the cost of solar and wind power, and Latin American countries are using regulation and markets to successfully incentivize the generation and use of renewable energy.
Over the last three years, more than half of Robert Downing's work as a partner at Greenberg Traurig has been related to renewable energy in Latin America. But even he has been surprised by the growth in that sector in the last year. He expected a greater mix of energy sources.
"In the last six months my work has been almost 80 percent related to renewable projects—solar or wind. That's all Mexico and Central America and a couple of deals in Colombia," Downing said. "There is just this huge emphasis on renewables."
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