Energy integration based on renewable sources as a means of development, by Lucas Noura de Moraes Rêgo Guimarães


This work relates to the field of Energy and Development studies and suggests the creation of a South American energy policy based on the extensive use of renewable resources and the pursuit of a broad energy integration as a way to break the energy insecurity that frequently characterizes the South American energy sector and to relieve, to some extent, the pressure on the environment, characterized, for example, by the construction of giant dams, deforestation for biofuels and polluted gas emissions coming from coal mining, gas and oil along with local economies destruction. Although South America does not suffer from a lack of resources, it is undeniable that in the region there is an energy security problem1. Blackouts, electrical constraints, faults in the transmission network, bottlenecks in distribution, pressure on the environment are part of the history of the unsteady South American development. Through the establishment of a normative speech sustained by a human security concept which proposes South American energy integration based on renewable energy, one seeks to overcome this type of problem.

The argument is based on the notion that the reaching of a safe level of power supply is not only essential to the national economy of the States, but also for the human development and security. The advantages of an integrated regional energy system and the broad use of renewable energy bring energy security to South America so that human security is not only respected, but improved.

When the use of natural resources is analyzed throughout history, especially since the Industrial Revolution, it becomes clear how society has become dependent on exosomatic energy and how the capitalist way of production accelerated and distorted

There is an overwhelming incompatibility between the current growth and development model and nature's ability to replenish its resources3. Although this model, since the Industrial Revolution, has been producing some progress for some people, and that it could still produce wealth (regardless of who is the addressee of this wealth) for another fifty years as it is speculated; it is known that in the long term it will become impossible to bear the economic and social costs of this development model, which is based on huge levels of energy consumption, threatening the human existence on Earth.

Therefore, development must be understood not only as the expansion of material conditions, but it should also take into account other aspects, such as environmental protection, social cohesion, preserving cultural diversity, gender equality and expansion of human capabilities4.

If development must be understood this way, then, energy plays a key role, both for national and human development. For development to occur, access to energy must be guaranteed. This relationship brings with it the energy security problem in itself. Energy security, in this sense, is an indispensable and fixed prerequisite for the development. There is no development without energy.

In order to work on these issues, the paper is structured as follows: in a first topic, brief remarks about the notion of human security and its relationship with the idea of energy security are presented. The second topic discusses the reasons why it is believed that an integration policy based on renewable energy in South America should be taken into effect. The third topic examines concrete actions in the context not only of MERCOSUR, but also along with two international organizations and an international forum which think of solutions for energy integration in South America: CIER, OLADE and IIRSA, as well as it brings a survey of what already exists in terms of energy exchange. Finally, the work draws its conclusions.

It is worth to note that the article does not intend to exhaust the topic or present a final solution to the South American energy problem, as it is truly complex and dynamic. By studying the energy issue, one is faced with a theme, which besides being politicized, it touches many fields of knowledge, so the purpose of the work is no other than to merely bring the arguments to the academic arena in order for them to be analyzed, criticized and revised.

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