Environmental issues related to electricity exchange between South American Countries
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Since resources are not homogenously distributed throughout the planet, commerce of raw material between countries becomes a necessity. The present work analyzes the commerce of electricity between South American countries under the environmental perspective, using Life Cycle Assessment. The year 2012 was chosen to sketch the scenario of exportation and importation of electricity among the South American countries because it is the most recent data. To assess the electricity matrix of the countries, six categories of environmental impact were chosen: climate change, terrestrial acidification, freshwater eutrophication, particulate matter emission, natural land transformation, and fossil depletion. Among these categories, Paraguay was the best rated country, with the lowest environmental impact in five categories — except in natural land transformation, in which it had the highest, because of its hydroelectric-based matrix. The impact categories were divided into three groups: global pollution, local pollution, and depletion of natural resources. In the case of global pollution, energy integration of the continent can favor the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. As for local pollution, it is worth noting that countries exporting electricity consider the environmental impact within the country itself when negotiating MWh sales prices; it is necessary to internalize the externalities. Regarding the depletion of natural resources, the analyzed environmental impact categories are not critically important to these countries in the present moment. Energy integration in South America can be a vector to promote sustainable development in the region but it is necessary that environmental and social issues are duly considered in the decisionmaking processes.