Argentina has been a member of World Energy Council since its creation in 1923, when it was part of the Argentine Engineers’ Center. In 1991 it became an independent NGO with its own legal standing. CACME’s mission is “to promote and support the World Energy Council's efforts, aimed to enhance a sustainable supply and use of energy for the greatest benefit of all people”. CACME aims to collaborate in the process of transforming the national energy sector, through the communication of global trends and the dissemination of the work and reports of the World Energy Council. CACME was chosen to organise the first World Energy Congress in Latin America in 2001.
Andrea Heins serves as Chair of the Argentine Committee of the World Energy Council.
She has more than 20 years of experience in the energy industry, working in the private and public sector, and as independent consultant. She is the former Undersecretary of Energy Efficiency and Savings at the Ministry of Energy and Mining of Argentina thru mid-2018. In this position, she was the vice-chair of the Energy Transitions Working Group under Argentine G20 Presidency and co-chair at the Executive Committee of IPEEC (International Partnership on Energy Efficiency Cooperation).
In the past, she performed as senior consultant in energy efficiency for the industry sector and worked for 14 years at YPF (Argentinian national oil and gas Company) in the Technology and Engineering Divisions, where she held different leading positions in the areas of Engineering and Technology.
She is the chair of Energy Efficiency Commission at the Argentine Institute of Petroleum and Gas (IAPG) and Expert Member in the Awards Selection Committee for the “Energy Management Leadership Awards”, organized by the Clean Energy Ministerial (2017 – present). Currently, she works as independent consultant on energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development.
Graciela Misa serves as the Secretary of the Argentine Committee of the World Energy Council.
She has specialized in electric systems planning, starting her career in the former state-owned company, Agua y Energía Eléctrica. During her years in the state owned energy company in Neuquén province, EPEN, she was Executive Manager in charge of planning and CEO of the company, responsible for the planning and execution for development of power generation, transport and distribution in the province. She has also been responsible for the Educational Program for the Efficient Use of Energy and Development of new sources, materializing brand new non renewable energy projects as micro-hydroelectric power plants and solar energy supply programs for isolated areas.
Beyond her energy background, she has also completed studies related with environmental topics: Master in Environmental Management, Clean Development Mechanisms and Climate Change Courses.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Geography from the National University of Buenos Aires. She completed her education and specialization in energy issues with postgraduate courses in Argentina, Spain (UNESA), France (Electricite de France) and Canada (Quebec Ministry of Production).
Energy in Argentina
Argentina presents opportunities for digitalisation and further diversification of the country’s energy mix. Energy Leaders identified renewables and energy efficiency as main priorities, with market design and economic instability remaining as uncertainties that the country should focus on.
During the past five years, several Renewable Energy projects have been developed within the framework of the RenovAr program. Under the programme, 147 contracts were awarded, mainly for solar and wind power, with an average energy price of 54.72 USD/MWh, adding around 4,460 MW of installed capacity.
With the election of a new government in December 2019, the program was suspended. This change in addition to the economic crisis and the country’s low credit rating make it difficult to attract investors for project financing. The pandemic has also had an impact on the renewable energy sector, causing several projects to become bankrupt.
Considering the excellent climate conditions (wind quality in Patagonia and radiation in North-western Argentina), it is important to work on an agreement between project developers and the government, in order to set a new framework and discuss how to attract financing sources and the investments required in the transmission system for interconnection.
The decision to freeze energy tariffs, acting as a support for lower income families during the pandemic lockdown, in parallel with an inflation rate around 36%, results in consumers paying only a fraction of energy costs, with the difference being subsidized by the government, covering utilities expenses and benefits. In this context, consumers are not concerned about energy efficiency, since it has a low financial impact on household bills.
Nonetheless, the Ministry of Economy announced a tariff increase for 2021 in order to reduce the fiscal deficit and narrow the gap with the real cost of energy. This is anticipated to result in significant improvement in consumer energy consumption efficiency, especially in the Greater Buenos Aires where the tariff gap is higher. This will entail greater investment in higher performance equipment, automation, cogeneration systems, etc.
According to the G20, Argentina faced the worst recession in 2020, with an estimated GDP drop of 12.9% (stated by the OECD). However, it is expected to recover by 3.7% in 2021 and 4.6% for 2022. Due to the emergency measures implemented during the lockdown, Argentina is facing a possible scenario of hyperinflation, given that currency demand will not be able to absorb the increase of the supply. On the other hand, the national reserves are reaching their minimum level, generating an additional risk with the possibility of a devaluation.
The country’s energy market is highly regulated without a clear framework, which represents a critical uncertainty for investors. Many companies moved their headquarters abroad due to the country’s monetary policy, lack of transparency and a high fiscal pressure. Working on the highlighted issues would attract greater investment without so many barriers to be overcome.
Argentina’s opportunities in digitalisation and disruptive technologies are significant since there is a lot to be done. Smart grids, e-mobility, distributed generation and energy storage concepts are at an early stage and can have an important impact if the correct conditions for development are set.
The RenovAr Plan and the development of green hydrogen are possible pathways to diversify the country’s energy mix while decarbonising the electricity mix. Finally, an infrastructure investment agenda towards a High Voltage network expansion, transport electrification and regional integration could have a positive impact in the energy sector, presenting an opportunity for the development of sustained long-term strategies.