While there isn’t much to report with respect to energy issues, you might be interested in some of my impressions as I sailed from Lima, Peru, to Buenos Aires around Cape Horn, at the southernmost tip of South America.
The narrow strip of land, roughly 50 miles wide, on average, between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, is where nearly all the people live in Peru and Chile. Roughly half the people in Peru live in Lima. The situation in Chile is similar, with most people living in Valparaiso and Santiago.
The Atacama Desert covers the southern half of Peru and the northern one-third of Chile. It is, according to many, the driest desert in the world.
When I asked about solar energy, because I had seen none in Peru or Chile, I was told there is a small solar installation in the Peruvian desert.
There is very little wind energy in either Peru or Chile. I saw one wind farm of three turbines in Southern Chile. Hydro is an important source of electricity in Chile.
The ancient Nasca lines, that are best seen from the air, are near Pisco, Peru. The el Candelabro, of ancient unknown origin, is cut into the side of a hill, also near Pisco. El Candelabro could be seen from the ocean as we traveled by boat to the Ballestes Island bird sanctuary.
Mining is the major industry in Chile, with the Chuquicamata copper mine located 120 miles northeast of Antofagasta, one of the ports we visited. Remnants of a silver smelter are located in Antofagasta.
In Valparaiso, Chile, the capsule used, two years ago, to rescue 33 trapped miners, was on display in the naval museum. The picture shows how small the capsule is, and, as you can see, it would have been difficult for me to have fit in it.
While Valparaiso is a very busy seaport, its heyday was before 1914 and the opening of the Panama Canal.
Electric distribution poles, i.e., telephone poles, are nearly all made from concrete in Peru, Chili and Argentina, due to a shortage of trees of the appropriate size. Termites are not the reason for using concrete. While Florida Power and Light (FPL) uses concrete poles, it may be smart for other U. S. utilities to also adopt concrete in place of wooden poles.
Wood is burned for cooking and heating in parts of southern Chile, specifically the area around Coyhaique, as natural gas is very expensive and must be imported from Argentina. This creates obvious problems with air pollution and emphasizes, once again, how fortunate we are in the United States to have such a large source of inexpensive natural gas as the result of fracking.
The city of Punta Arenas, located on the Strait of Magellan, is the southernmost city in Chile. Here, there is natural gas, but the rugged terrain of mountains and fjords prevents building a pipeline from Punta Arenas to areas north of the city.
There are multiple volcanoes in Chile, and the coastal areas of Peru and Chile are prone to frequent earthquakes, with a 6.4 quake occurring off the coast of central Chile while we were in the area.
The southern third of Chile is very much like the coast of Alaska, near Skagway. There are multiple fjords with several glaciers that extend to the sea.
There are six glaciers, the Espania, Romanche, Alemania, Francia, Italia and Hollanda Glaciers, one right after the other, along the Beagle channel. The channel was named for the sailing ship Beagle on which Charles Darwin sailed, listed in the manifest as a supernumerary.
Ships have gone aground in these fjords.
See Part 2 for the trip around the Horn and then to Buenos Aires.
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