Latin America a natural energy partner for U.S.

Current upheaval in Libya and other north African nations and rising prices for oil serve as a wake-up call for the Americas to pursue greener sources of energy — from natural gas to wind, sun and plants.

Those were among conclusions from WorldCity’s Global Connections panel held Feb. 25 to explore the topic, “Energy in Latin America: From Oil to Alternatives.”

Panelists agreed that oil will remain a key source of the world’s energy for years to come. But greater efforts to develop greener sources can help cut their costs and pave the way for greater and more affordable use later, as oil becomes harder to extract and more expensive.

Natural gas is one viable short-term option, because it is widely available in the Americas and burns about 40 percent cleaner than oil. Chevron is hot on developing natural gas, now that “the era of easy oil is over,” said panelist Kevin Wolahan, transition manager at Chevron’s portfolio strategy team.

Latin America has many alternatives to oil, thanks to abundant water, sun, wind, land, plants and other resources. Some nations are seizing those opportunities. But governments need to do more to encourage options, adopting long-term energy policies and offering incentives to investment, said panelist George Philippidis, energy director at the Applied Research Center at Florida International University.

“For the United States, integration with Latin America in energy is the way to go, so we can depend more on friends and neighbors and less on unstable parts of the world,” said Philippidis.

Some audience members wondered why renewable energy is not more widely used in the Americas now. In Cyprus, most people have solar water heaters on their roof but not so in Florida or other areas with ample sun, said Aya Chacar, assistant professor of management and international business at FIU.

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Read: “Latin America a natural energy partner for U.S.,“ an article by WorldCity.

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