Latin American countries are increasingly tapping into one of the world’s most abundant natural resources: the sun. That’s because solar has recently become one of the region’s cheapest sources of power. According to GTM Research, solar energy production costs come in at almost half the price of gas and coal. This cleaner and cheaper alternative is weaning Latin America off fossil fuels and it is consequently emerging as a global leader in renewable energy.

This has been particularly evident in Mexico. Not only has the country produced solar energy prices at a record low, but its northwestern desert is home to what is now the largest solar farm in the Americas. Enel Green Power’s impressive Villanueva complex spreads 2.3 million solar panels across 2,400 hectares of land, and has the capacity to supply electricity to over 1.3 million households. The plant is still unfinished, yet is already injecting power into the Mexican national grid, nine months ahead of schedule.

‘Some years ago the system was expensive,’ says Ana Caballero, Enel’s first female site manager. ‘[But modern technology] has given us the opportunity to reduce costs and increase the capacity of our plants…The future of solar energy in Latin America is promising.’

Emily Earnshaw