First South American Energy Forum promotes regional integration

Posted on 23 September 2015

Inside picThe first South American Energy Forum to promote regional integration projects in Latin America organised by the World Energy Council and the Union of South American Nations with the support of the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy took place in Quito in Ecuador in September.

The Forum which was opened by the Vice-President of Ecuador, Jorgé Glas Espinel, attracted over 180 participants from 17 countries and 5 Ministers. It provided a platform for ministers to discuss regional integration and for wide ranging discussions between governments, international organisations, academia, public and private enterprises in the electricity and hydrocarbon sectors.

At the Forum a new partnership agreement between the World Energy Council and the Comisión de Integración Energética Regional, CIER, a civil non-profit association, which brings together companies and organisations from the energy sector in Latin America was signed. The objective of the agreement is to work together on studies and events.

Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, said: “The agreement provides an opportunity to exchange knowledge and develop synergies that complement both organisation’s activities on a wide range of activities and studies such as the Future Energy Leaders programme and the World Energy Scenarios work.  We’re looking forward to working with CIER.”

Present at the Forum were representatives from the World Energy Council’s member committees of Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile and Peru who brought their expertise to discussions which included wide ranging debates on how regional integration can deliver the three dimensions of the Energy Trilemma: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability in the region.

The Forum concluded that energy provided the best opportunity for economic growth in Latin America and that policies which give countries access to renewable energy and unlock the huge potential of hydrocarbons in the region are critical to success. At the Forum there was also discussion on regional topics such as energy efficiency and the impact of a COP21 climate agreement in Latin America.

Christoph Frei added: “Latin America and the Caribbean are richly endowed with renewable and fossil energy resources. It is clear that energy leaders in the region are concerned about the impacts of the energy water nexus and extreme weather events on the energy system. Indeed these are their top ‘keep me awake at night issues’.

“Given that we have seen an almost quadrupling of the frequency of extreme weather events over the past 20 years, we are going to require a different approach to the way we develop and deliver energy resources in the future. True resiliency requires regional approaches to integration and an adapted energy system. This is why this Forum hosted by the government of Ecuador is so valuable.”

Christoph Frei also discussed with the Ecuadorian Vice-Minister for Electricity and Renewable Energy, Jose Medardo Cadena, how regional integration can help deal with El Niño issues. For example, in Colombia El Niño causes droughts which places a serious threat to electricity supplies and drives electricity costs up as Colombia is highly reliant on hydropower for its power generation.  However, in Ecuador El Niño causes floods meaning that hydropower plants have the ability to produce additional electricity which could be exported to Colombia.

The Forum received wide media interest with Jose Medardo Cadena, Vice-Minister for Electricity and Renewable Energy, Ecuador, appearing on national television to say how privileged Ecuador was to host a major regional energy event by one of the most important organisations in the world when it comes to energy – the World Energy Council.

Cadena went on to talk about the Energy Trilemma saying: “All our recent public policies and actions in Ecuador have looked at answering and balancing the three dimensions of the Energy Trilemma. These policies have shown what can be achieved when it comes to the Energy Trilemma.

“Regional integration has massive potential and hopefully the Forum will produce tangible outcomes that will move regional integration projects forward for the benefits of all of the Latin American region.”

Commenting on the success of the Forum, José Antonio Vargas Lleras, Vice Chair of the World Energy Council for the Latin American & Caribbean region said: “This gathering represents a culmination of the efforts that the World Energy Council has invested in the region to foster regional cooperation and build energy policies in Latin America that can fulfil the triple challenge of energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability.

“Ecuador reflects one of the most successful cases in public policy to address the triple challenge of the Energy Trilemma. Its ambitious hydroelectric program will provide 93% of the country’s electricity from water resources.  In addition, the 16.5 MW of wind power installed in the south shows the commitment of the country to improving its environmental sustainability performance.”