100% renewables for South America

100% renewables for South America

The researchers compared the results with former studies of North America, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Russia, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.

A study by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. shows that a 100% renewables is the cheapest electricity production option.

The transition can be achieved with very few energy storages and could be realized by 2030. 

Renewables: the pros for the continent

South America has a unique renewable energy resources

  • the best wind sites globally are in Patagonia
    capacity: 69 gigawatts of wind power.
  • the best solar energy sites are in the Atacama Desert
    capacity: 415 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics
  • hydro power is already used in large amounts
    capacity: 144 gigawatts of hydro dams and 39 gigawatts of hydro run-of-river,
  • the sustainable biomass potential is significant
    capacity: 17 gigawatts of biogas and 4 gigawatts of biomass
  • The cost of green electricity ranges between 47 to 62 euros per mWh
    Other options, including new nuclear and CCS are 75-150 percent higher in cost


The abundance of solar and wind power in South America as well as the high capacity of hydro dams means that the region does not need many energy storages, according to the report.

  • Hydro dams can be used as a virtual battery for solar and wind electricity storage, balancing generation and demand in times of lacking solar of wind electricity during the course of the year.
  • In other parts of the world, this would require power-to-gas technology, in which electricity is converted into gases, such as hydrogen and synthetic natural gas, and converting them again back to power.


The study also showed that if the current industrial natural gas demand in South America is replaced by power-to-gas technology, the need for energy storages will plummet.

This is called system integration in which power-to-gas, but also other technologies, increase the flexibility of the electricity system without the need for large energy storages. This flexibility lowers the cost of electricity.

This integration is estimated to save up to 13 billion euros.

Comparison studies

The researchers have studied other regions of the world. Results have already been published for North America, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia and Russia, the Middle East and Northern Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. These studies have allowed the researchers to highlight regional issues.

Their conclusion: South America has a competitive advantage over other parts of the world to develop a 100% RE system.

A Cost Optimal Resolution for Europe powered by100 Renewables for Year 2030


The study was done as part of the Neo-Carbon Energy research, which is funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, Tekes, and is carried out in cooperation with Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. and the University of Turku, Finland Futures Research Centre.


Christian Breyer
Professor for Solar Economy
E. christian.breyer@lut.fi
Ph. +358 50 443 1929

Pasi Vainikka
Principal Scientist
E. pasi.vainikka@vtt.fi
Ph. +358 40 582 5987



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