An energy technology company called BlocPower hopes to do for buildings on a large scale what Tesla is doing for automobiles. “You have to take fossil fuels out of the buildings, just like we have to take them out of cars,” said Donnel Baird, CEO of the Brooklyn, New York-based startup. “There’s just no way to deal with climate change otherwise.”
Last November, as an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season was coming to a close, two powerful storms brought death and devastation to several countries, most of them in Central America. Over the next few months, this newsletter will look at how some of the areas in the paths of Eta and Iota are faring. The first stop on this journey is a small Caribbean island called Providencia, part of Colombia’s Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. Winds from Hurricane Iota—the first Category 5 hurricane to hit Colombia—began to slam into the island during the night of November 15, leveling structures, ripping off roofs, and knocking down concrete electric poles. With the recovery process now underway, the Colombian government wants to build back better and put the island on track toward zero emissions.
Photo: Susan Welsh/AP In the weeks since he won the U.S. election, President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear that he intends not only to rejoin the Paris Agreement—“on day one of my presidency”—but also to make climate action a focus across both domestic and foreign policy. That change in U.S. priorities, several energy and […]
President-elect Joe Biden has assembled a prominent team—subject to Senate confirmation—to spearhead climate efforts at home and abroad. The administration plans to take an “all of government” approach to combating climate change, one that involves not just the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Department of Energy, for example, but also Agriculture and Treasury and […]
More than 10 million visitors traveled to Hawaii in 2019. By April of this year, with flights and cruises suspended due to the global pandemic, the torrent of tourists had become a trickle—down by 99.5% from the year before. Although tourism is now starting to gradually resume, it is still only about one tenth the […]
Wind and solar projects have been multiplying in Colombia in the past two years, and President Iván Duque recently announced plans for another major renewable energy auction in 2021. Although hydroelectric power is still the main course on Colombia’s energy menu, the appetite is growing for non-conventional renewables. With its abundant resources and solid regulatory […]
In southern New Mexico—part of the vast Chihuahuan Desert—the predominant color in the landscape is brown. But inside the greenhouses at Masson Farms, in a village called Radium Springs, it’s all about color: pinks and reds and purples and oranges and yellows. The potted plants the company grows thrive there all year round, in large part because of an abundance of geothermal hot water that keeps the temperature carefully controlled.
As energy becomes more decentralized—as close to home as solar panels on the roof—the opportunity is there for it to become more democratic too. What does energy democracy look like? It’s often tied to renewables, but it’s about a lot more than that.
With 33 brand-new electric buses now crisscrossing the island, Barbados is moving full speed ahead in modernizing its public transit fleet and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. Passengers love the fringe benefits—for starters, the buses are air conditioned—but they are still getting used to one big change: the absence of noise.
Natural gas has some clear advantages over diesel or heavy fuel oil—it’s cleaner to burn and less expensive—but it has not always been a practical option for small countries. That is changing. Innovations in technology, advances in logistics, investments in infrastructure, and strong market forces mean that liquefied natural gas (LNG) can now be economically viable on a very small scale, opening up new prospects for power generation, transportation, and industry in Central America and the Caribbean.
The region’s energy future rests on investment and innovation from the private sector—along with smart policies and regulations from governments. Beginning this month, a new Public-Private Sector Dialogue Series will seek to expand that synergy and strengthen the foundation for energy development and growth.
As countries around the world scramble to lower their carbon emissions, many are looking to green hydrogen—in other words, hydrogen produced using renewable energy—to help them meet their goals. One country that believes it is especially well positioned to be a major player in that market is Chile. Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobet has encouraged the country to “think big” about Chile’s prospects as a producer and exporter of green hydrogen.
For the past decade, before Covid-19 brought aviation to a near standstill, growth in air travel had been soaring, bringing with it a rise in CO2 emissions. The industry was taking steps to become more efficient and reduce its carbon footprint, and a landmark carbon offset plan was established for international air travel. Although today’s economic turbulence has led to an adjustment of that plan, the industry is still on a trajectory to become more sustainable, according to one veteran aviation expert.
The road trip is a classic theme in U.S. popular culture and a staple of the summer vacation—a chance to recharge the batteries. For owners of electric vehicles (EVs), that’s not just a metaphor. Far from their usual home or work plug-in sites, they consult apps and map out routes that will get them to the next charging station down the road. The fear of running out of charge—range anxiety—has always been a barrier to EV adoption, especially in a country as big as the United States. But as longer-range electric vehicles come on the market and the charging infrastructure ramps up, that may be starting to change.
For electric utilities that operate in Caribbean countries, planning for hurricanes is a year-round endeavor. Add Covid-19 into the mix, and things start to get even more complicated—especially since this year’s hurricane season is expected to bring “above-normal” activity.
Ecuador is an oil-exporting country, of course, but lately it has been exporting clean energy too, thanks to a surplus of hydroelectric power. The country’s electricity sales to Colombia have been increasing, and plans are underway for a new high-voltage line connecting Ecuador and Peru. By 2024, says the head of Ecuador’s government-owned electric utility, an “electric transmission highway” will link these three Andean countries, marking a step toward a more integrated—and more resilient—electricity market in the region. Meanwhile, Ecuador is looking to increase its own resilience by diversifying its electricity grid.
Countries around the region have long understood that making a transition to clean energy and energy efficiency is critical if they hope to achieve their environmental goals and commitments. Now they are looking at another potential benefit of the energy transition—the role it could play in helping to stimulate a post-pandemic economic recovery.
The expansion of the renewable energy sector in recent years has spawned a growing number of jobs all along the value chain. That has many countries taking notice, as they look to restart their economies and put people back to work.
Solar and wind plants are springing up everywhere, but the electricity grid cannot always take maximum advantage of the clean energy they produce. As countries in the region ramp up their targets for renewables, they need to ensure that their power systems are flexible enough to accommodate ever-larger amounts of intermittent generation. That is doable—even 100% renewable energy is doable in some cases—but it will require governments to put new policies in place that reward flexibility, one energy company executive says; otherwise, a lot of that wind and solar will just go to waste.
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, residents of many of the world’s largest cities were experiencing some of the clearest skies they had seen in years. The decrease in air pollution—captured in striking before-and-after photos and satellite images—has been one of the rare positive side effects of the pandemic-related shutdowns. Experts in air quality from some of Latin America’s major urban areas talked recently about the effects of the sharp declines in traffic in their cities—and some of the problems that cannot be solved just by taking vehicles off the road.
Every economy in the world will feel the effects of Covid-19, but the pain will be especially acute in the Caribbean region, where the bottom has fallen out of the tourism market. Now is the time for governments to think big about how to make the region more resilient, one economist says.
No matter how many movies families watch in home isolation or how many hours they run their air conditioners, play their radios, or work on their computers, they will not use nearly as much electricity as a working factory or a bustling hotel. As a result, the widespread shutdown of commercial and industrial activity across the region has led to lower demand for electric power. This creates challenges for utilities—especially at a time when many of their customers will struggle to pay their electric bills.
With a pandemic on the march, economies in near-paralysis, and a collapse in oil prices to boot, the energy sector is facing a new set of uncertainties. How might these factors shape the region’s long-term energy future? How will oil-exporting countries fare? Will the momentum for renewable energy falter? Are there new opportunities to improve resilience? These are just some of the questions experts from around the Americas have been tackling as they examine a world that has been upended in a matter of weeks.
Now that the end is in sight for resolving the territorial differendum between Guatemala and Belize, could it be time for the two countries to think about an electricity interconnection? At the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), Guatemala said it would like to sit down with its neighbor and talk about it.
The vast majority of people in Latin America and the Caribbean—over 96% of them, according to most estimates—have access to electricity. In some corners of the region, it may not yet be as reliable, affordable, sustainable, or modern as it should be, but as a rule, people can turn on the lights. That is not the case for most people in Haiti. With 60% to 70% of the population still without electricity, the government is pursuing an “aggressive” strategy to overhaul the power sector and improve access and quality throughout the country.
What does it mean to build resilient infrastructure—and who’s going to pay for it? On the sidelines of the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), representatives of the public and private sector talked about how to make the region’s energy systems less vulnerable to disruption and better prepared for contingencies.
Diversification. Flexibility. Integration. Versatility. Nimbleness. These are just a few of the objectives that countries across the Americas are pursuing as they strive to become more energy-resilient and climate-smart. How best to do that was the focus of the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), held in Montego Bay, Jamaica—which for two days in February was, as Prime Minister Andrew Holness put it, “the most energetic place on Earth.”
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica—As countries across the Caribbean and Latin America strive to become more climate-resilient and meet ambitious energy goals, they are turning the region into “a global leader in renewable energy,” the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, said here today.
When ministers of energy from around the Americas descend on Jamaica next week, they will find a country that has set its sights on a more climate-resilient future. What does that mean, in a region so often in the path of hurricanes? It’s about much more than hardening the grid, says Fayval Williams, Jamaica’s Minister of Energy, Science and Technology.
Just in time for the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA)—coming up this week in Montego Bay, Jamaica—two new reports examine prospects for increased energy resilience and growth in electric mobility in the Caribbean region.
With only 10 years to go to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals—including the goal to ensure access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”—energy ministers from around the Americas will meet in Jamaica next month to look at some of the obstacles and opportunities ahead.
2010-04-21Nuestra visión es un futuro energético y climático sostenible para el Hemisferio