We at ACC are very much for “clean energy” sources. The world has a giant nuclear reactor in the sky called the sun. It seems we should be able to figure out how to make it work for us.
However when governments get ahold of “clean energy” it is almost always about creating boondoggles that benefit connected contractors. Almost always. That’s what happened with the Obama “Greenrush.” (Paid for by you and me of course.)
But in South America things, according to the report below, are more mixed. The socialists/statists have tried to exploit oil reserves for the wealth they can generate (only to fail as socialists always do) but have left alternative energy a bit more open to innovation and actual reality based investment. This is a very good thing.
Unfortunately the situation at best is as we say mixed. If there is energy to be sold, and the state is involved, cronies swarm on projects like flies on alternative fecal based fuel. One can probably quadruple this rule of thumb in South America.
Look no further than Petrobras, the Brazilian oil major brought low by massive graft and statist ring-fencing. Clean energy is hardly immune to corruption: Consider Italy’s “lords of the wind,” who gamed public tenders to corner big contracts. But in Latin America, the renewable market is wide open; there’s no Solarbras or Windmex to stifle competition. From 2010 to 2016, more than 40 percent of “disclosed investment” in local clean energy initiatives came from outside the region; Brazil alone pulled in $53 billion to its burgeoning market. This makes Latin American clean energy one of the friendliest markets in the world to international capital, BNEF reported in March.
There’s plenty to be friendly about. The sun beats down from the Andean cordillera to the Atlantic shores, and Patagonia is a wind farm waiting to be harvested. Some of this potential has already been tapped. Since the early 1970s, ambitious regimes with grand visions of converting backwater nations into world powers hurled up great hydroelectric dams, which together kick in two-thirds of regional electricity. Brazil was an early adapter of biofuels. Since the early 1970s, its clean-burning ethanol has replaced 2.4 billion barrels of oil (close to Brazil’s yearly output), and kept 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, energy expert José Goldemberg, president of the Sao Paulo Research Foundation, told me.
As in other regions, however, Latin America’s enthusiasm for renewable energy has wavered. After all, for decades the drilling platform was the monument to sovereignty, and petroleum an elixir of populists from Mexico’s Lazaro Cardenas (1934 to 1940), who enjoined his compatriots to pawn their jewels and cattle to pay for the national oil company, to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who turned the state oil company PDVSA into a cash box for Bolivarian socialism. Brazil’s discovery of “pre-salt” oil under the continental shelf — a “winning lottery ticket,” former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva extolled — extended petroleum’s reign.
*Brazil went nuts with ethanol recently. We do not consider ethanol a “clean” source of energy. In any respect.