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[LIMA] The Peruvian government is trying to stimulate investment and large-scale use of renewable energies to reduce its dependence on petroleum.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines announced earlier this month (7 February) that it will present a portfolio of 35 projects in March during the meeting of the Energy Work Group of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), in Iquitos.

The projects would require the investment US$35 billion over 15 years. Most are still in the planning stage, to be developed in partnership with governments and private enterprises.

Deputy minister of energy, Pedro Gamio, told SciDev.Net that the goal is to reduce the commercial use of petroleum in Peru to 25 per cent of 2004 levels by 2011. Thus far the country has decreased petroleum use from 70 to 55 per cent of 2004 levels, mainly by increasing the use of gas.

Gamio says a critical aspect of the APEC presentation will be to put a value on the savings in gaseous pollutants that these projects would produce.

Fifteen of the projects are for hydropower. One, located in the Amazon, could generate as much as 7,550 megawatts, says Gamio, even though Peru requires just 350 megawatts a year.

"So, we will be able to export energy to Brazil and it could mean the beginning of good cooperation within the Atlantic watershed," he says.

Other projects include wind, geothermic, solar and tidal power, as well as the development of a national solar map. The latter chart levels of solar radiation across Peru, and is intended to guide the location of solar panels. The authorities predict that at some sites in Peru, one solar panel could generate as much energy as 15 panels in other sites.

"What we want with this portfolio is send a clear message: Peru is doing everything to diversify its energy model, taking advantage of the many kinds of energy that we have," says Gamio.

A law on renewable energy — aiming to provide funding for research and encourage public and private companies to invest in development — was proposed to congress on 1 February and Gamio hopes it will be passed before the end of the month.

"This law will mean that the use of renewable energies is a state policy and not only a government decision," he says.