North America Network

Shaping the future of energy in North America

North America Network

The North America region, which consists of three countries: United States of America, Canada and Mexico, has been playing a key role in the studies activities regarding cleaner fossil fuel systems, carbon capturing, utilisation and storage (CCS/CCUS), performance of generating plants, unconventional fuel resources, survey of energy resources and technologies, energy policy trilemma issues, and energy scenarios. 

The region has also addressed their countries’ unique issues and challenges at energy forums and workshops focusing on topics such as, replacement of nuclear, regulation on CCS technology, smart energy policies, energy efficiency with advanced technologies, and trade issues. 

The region organises the World Energy Council official regional forum, the North America-Latin America bi-regional forum which addresses energy efficiency, energy conservation, alternative energies, energy transport and fossil fuels issues. 

Energy in North America 

north america, issues monitor, critical uncertainties and action priorities

REGIONAL OVERVIEW & CONTEXT

Geopolitics and macroeconomic issues define the uncertainties landscape for Mexico, the US and Canada. While these concerns are primarily focused around regional dynamics, China and the Middle East also play an important role in defining perceptions. Economic Growth appears with uncertainty at the regional level but remains an Action Priority in some national contexts. Energy technologies appear consistently as Action Priorities for the three countries, with Energy Efficiency playing the biggest role. Regional integration also influences perceptions in the Actions section.

CRITICAL UNCERTAINTIES & ACTION PRIORITIES

US Policy is perceived with the highest uncertainty and impact in the region. Mexico, the US and Canada are strong energy trade and investment partners. As the three countries continue to call for a continuation of existing relations, uncertainty emerges from the restructuring of trade agreements which, at the time of this survey, were still unsettled. While the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provides a framework for greater energy investment and stronger private sector engagement across the region, it has been pending ratification since 2018 over the need to reach full consensus on its terms.

Economic Growth is seen with greater impact and becomes a Critical Uncertainty for North America. On the one hand, this view reflects the uncertainty around regional trade relations as they are restructured. On the other hand, it points to concerns around the impact of the US-China trade dispute on investments from these two countries in the region. It also highlights the attention to the effects of new trade dynamics on the price of technology imports and their implications for competitiveness and growth within the energy sector.

Commodity Prices are perceived as a Critical Uncertainty, also reflecting concerns on the effects of US-China trade relations on energy engagements in the region. At the time of this survey, a 5% tariff on US crude oil shipments had been imposed by China, on top of a 25% tariff on US LNG since 2018. China’s crude oil imports from the US have also halved yearon-year according to Chinese customs data. In December 2019, both sides agreed on terms for the first phase towards a trade agreement.

Energy Efficiency is seen with reduced uncertainty and leads the Actions section, as efficiency plans are being implemented across the region to meet climate adaptation targets. Since 2016, Mexico’s Energy Conservation Code for Buildings provides guidance for promoting building efficiency in its expanding urban centres. Launched in 2019, Canada’s Energy Manager Program will provide $3.1 million to public and private organisations aimed at reducing energy use, operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, 30 out of 50 states are voluntarily committed to efficiency goals which are pursued through a mix of infrastructural changes, federal appliance standards and enhanced building codes.

Renewable Energies continue to be seen as an Action Priority but with higher uncertainty. Canada’s wind power capacity has been growing steadily in the last 10 years. In the United States, the consumption of nonhydroelectric renewable sources more than doubled from 2000 to 2018, following state and federal government requirements and incentives. In Mexico, the liberalisation of the energy sector and the implementation of carbon credits have accelerated investment in solar and wind. The increase in uncertainty reflects concerns on the possibility of policy changes which may disrupt the pace of growth in this sector.

Unconventionals enter the Actions section with higher impact, reflecting perceptions around the exponential growth of shale oil and gas production in the US and Canada, and the positioning of the region as a lead exporter on the global energy stage.

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Robert Hanf

Robert Hanf

Vice Chair
North America Network

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