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Powering up: greening energy use in the Americas

19.06.2019

By Felipe Orozco, José Viveros; HEC Paris

 

With Nina Gardner, Director, Strategy International

Speakers:

  • Jean Baptiste Baudin de la Valette, Regional Director USA and Caribbean, Bouygues Construction
  • Angeline Fournier, President, Maeva Investments
  • Alexandra Vitard, MX Government Affairs Manager & Business Development, ABB Mexico
  • Montserrat Palomar, Mexico and Central America Sustainability Manager, Enel Green Power

In the Americas we are observing at the same time an exciting shift towards greener energies and the surge of voices asking for a step back towards coil based energy.

 

Demand for electricity is increasing rapidly in Latin America, with the growth of the middle class and the rise of energy-intensive industries, and electricity consumption is projected to rise more than 70 percent by 2030. Carbon emissions continue to rise: in the US last year, emissions rose 3.4% percent, the largest rise in 8 years. At the same time, the cost of producing energy from wind, sun and other renewable sources has fallen significantly, and countries like Chile are taking advantage.

 

In this context what is needed now to sustain the trend towards renewables? How is women's leadership contributing to the greening of electricity generation and the overall energy mix in the Americas? 

 

Renewable Energy have been seen as the privilege for developed countries, but it is not, we need a switch everywhere, the sector faces different challenges but change is happening.

 

There is a tendency of governments to move to Renewable Energy but they need to support technology to make those changes possible. There is more demand for green energy, and it is cheaper to access it now, but the industry faces strong government regulation. The industry also needs basic infrastructure and a favorable context for investments. We have to convey that clean energy is key to sustainable development and it also generates benefits at the governmental level. It can be considered a TX benefit.

 

Another main issue attached to renewables is transmission and storage. How to transport the energy? On the one hand, Geography in the region poses difficulties for renewables as many resources that must be used are spread out over different locations. On the other hand, solar energy works well in the day but not at night. We are far in the battery storage from the research and development side.

 

Focusing on women in energy sustainability there are two main challenges in Latin America. The first one is that women have a low participation in the industry, though they have a large say in energy related decisions. For example, in construction projects only 15% of the workforce are women. In general, women are not welcome within the sector in LATAM facing stereotypes and being discouraged to join the industry. The second problem women face is the lack of access to energy. 50M people in LATAM do not have access to energy, this has a direct impact on women’s life quality and the challenges they face to provide sources of energy in their households.

 

The industry is developing solutions to help break stereotypes and provide more access to clean energy sources. The cultural shift is being address with programs based on education to make this projects appealing to kids who are the future and encourage girls to participate in energy related activities. In terms of access and women’s inclusion, there are advancements that include women learning installation and sale of solar panels. Other examples within the industry are women are being considered as suppliers of large environmental companies, training for the operation of solar panels, or the First Project Manager managing a solar park.

 

In order to continue this advancement, there are still many efforts to creating solutions so that women can be more attracted to the sector and the need to encourage them to be part of the solution.

This article is part of a series on #WFAmericas. Watch the full session on YouTube.