In recent months, global awareness of the urgency of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement has increased. Following recent IPCC reports, the energy transition took concrete shape: achieving net zero emissions globally around 2050.
In the coming months, world leaders will meet to find viable paths to meet this challenge. The summit of the United Nations High Level Energy Dialogue in New York will be held in a few days, where countries, companies and NGOs will announce voluntary commitments in a format called energy compact which consists of a voluntary declaration to advance the global decarbonization agenda. Also, in November the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 26) will be held in Glasgow.
These two forums offer the ideal platform to consolidate political will for the energy transition, renew climate ambition, accelerate investments for decarbonisation, and promote the international cooperation required to achieve these tasks.
In this context, several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) will have important announcements. Besides energy compact national, 12 countries grouped in the initiative “Renewables in Latin America and the Caribbean” (RELAC) have decided to present a energy compact regional, with the objective of reaching at least 70% participation of renewables in the regional electricity matrix by 2030.
The challenge of decarbonizing the regional electricity system
RELAC’s goal is no small challenge. Despite the evident advances in renewables, especially non-conventional renewables such as solar and wind, the region has maintained a relatively stable share of around 58% in the last decade (see graph). LAC is a region in full development and it is estimated that demand will grow at an approximate rate of 3% per year.
This makes the challenge of decarbonization difficult. The IDB study The Future Network estimated that to reach 70% renewables in the electricity matrix by 2030, approximately 30 billion dollars per year are required in investments in renewables. Considering that in the last 5 years there have been an average of 23.5 billion annually, investments would have to increase by around 30% to reach the goal set.
RELAC goal: reach at least 70% penetration of renewable energy in electrical systems by 2030
GRAPH – Evolution of renewable energies in the electricity generation matrix in LAC
What is RELAC and what are its objectives?
In the midst of this great challenge, RELAC emerged as a platform for climate action, designed to strengthen the political will for the energy transition and to be able to channel international technical assistance in a coordinated manner. RELAC was born at the end of 2019 at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, initially with the leadership of Colombia, Chile and Costa Rica.
The initiative has grown and strengthened, and today it has 12 member countries: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay. RELAC is a unique initiative of its kind in the LAC context. It is the first time that a group of countries in the region has voluntarily agreed to promote renewable energies with: (1) a specific goal at the regional level; (2) a robust monitoring scheme and (3) an operating structure designed to support countries in the process.
Likewise, RELAC has the support of international agencies with an active role in the region’s energy transition: the IDB (Technical Secretariat), OLADE (responsible for Monitoring), IRENA, the International Energy Agency (IEA), GIZ and the German government, NREL, UN Energy, WWF, LEDS LAC, among others. Coordination between RELAC partner agencies is key to achieving the objectives set and avoiding duplication of efforts. The objective is to help member countries more efficiently to achieve their goals, through a work platform that facilitates the exchange of experiences and resources.
RELAC is a platform for climate action that brings together the countries of the region and international organizations that seeks to accelerate carbon-neutrality
RELAC’s agenda for the coming years
In addition to the growth in the number of adhesion of countries and organizations, RELAC presents progress and an ambitious agenda for the coming years. During 2020, the initiative carried out a regional analysis of barriers to accelerating renewable energy.
In the coming months, the member countries of the initiative will assemble an investment plan and technical assistance. This plan will include both national and regional projects in areas such as planning, reform and modernization of regulatory frameworks, institutional training, and infrastructure projects that facilitate the adoption of renewables. This will make it possible to be more effective in attracting international financing to accelerate the penetration of renewables in the region.
We invite the other countries of the region and international agencies to also join this initiative, so that we can work together in the exchange of experiences and best practices, technical assistance and mobilization of financial resources towards projects that respond to the main challenges faced by the development of renewables in each country and in the region as a whole.
A energy compact to promote renewables in the region
On September 24 we celebrate the event RELAC: An energy compact to promote renewables in Latin America and the Caribbean, parallel to the High Level Dialogue on Energy summit. At the event, we had the opportunity to listen to the high authorities of the energy sector of the member countries of RELAC, who shared about the motivations that have led them to be part of the initiative, and about the process they have advanced to establish national goals. , progress and plans to contribute to the regional goal.
In this event we counted with the participation of Mauricio Claver-Carone, president of the IDB, Selwin Hart, special advisor to the UN Secretary General on climate issues, and Alfonso Blanco, OLADE’s executive secretary.
This path was updated on September 24 at 1:15 PM (ET)