Andean countries plan for geothermal future

05 March 2013| Articles


Latin America’s Andes mountain countries could produce thousands of megawatts of clean energy from underground heat and are asking countries and organisations with geothermal energy experience the best ways to do it.

Experts from Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand and France shared their lessons and expertise with Andean representatives at a geothermal development workshop on 4-5 March in Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital renowned for heat and power from thermal springs and geysers. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) held the workshop to launch the Geothermal Initiative in the Andes, in collaboration with the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE) and the International Geothermal Association (IGA).

Latin America holds some of the world’s richest geothermal resources, with total potential estimated at 35,500 megawatts (MW). A significant portion of this is concentrated in the Andean sub-region, consisting of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, all with vast potential yet limited development in geothermal energy. The energy ministries of all five countries took part in the meeting.

The discussions covered regulatory frameworks, capacity building and methods of financing for geothermal projects, including how to structure risk-mitigation funds. Along with the participating states, participants cited examples of best practices in the sector from Kenya and the Philippines.

Andean governments are working with IRENA to prepare a roadmap for the development of geothermal energy in the sub-region, which could provide a template for wider regional clean energy strategies, including in the eastern Caribbean.

IRENA promotes the adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy, aiming for sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth. The two-year-old intergovernmental agency is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and encompasses 160 participating states.

Please find the IRENA Renewable Energy Country Profiles for Latin America here.