In our recent Power Quality series, we’ve explored energy trends in the EU, China and the Middle East; this time, we are taking a look at transmission in Latin America. Although the energy landscape in each country is varied, their fast growing economies and surging power consumption levels means effective and efficient transmission of electricity is critical to meeting rising demand across the region.
Chile’s electricity consumption will grow between six to seven per cent between now and 2020. It also imports around 70% of its power, making the role of transmission and distribution of power particularly pertinent.
Brazil’s fast growing economy and population, combined with hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, means an additional 47,000 km of transmission lines, or $27 billion of investment between 2012 and 2021 is needed. The majority of these investments will be dedicated to transporting the electricity coming from large hydro plants in the north of the country to the south-eastern region where the consumption centres are located.
Mexico also needs to meet power consumption growth levels of 3.7 percent between 2010 and 2025, representing $16 billion needed in investment costs, all of which should be supported by the country’s recent energy reforms.
Furthermore, as governments across Latin America strive to deliver a more diverse energy mix independent from fossil fuels, the reliability and quality of in-country grid infrastructures will be key to successfully integrating renewables. Mexico, in particular, will need to transmit renewable energy from rural generation areas to major urban centres.
As renewables rise up the agenda, Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS), which increase transmission capacity over existing AC power lines, make smart grids possible by saving energy through maximising throughput and minimising loses, while managing the fluctuation in supply and demand caused by renewables. Similarly, as new transmission lines are built far across countries to transfer much needed power from source to demand, HVDC will guarantee greater grid flexibility, create efficiencies in transmission and decrease distribution CAPEX.