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Energy transition in Latin America: a webinar to discuss challenges of grid interconnection and circular cities

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December 17, 2020

In light of Latin America’s current path towards energy transition, Enel Américas organized the webinar “Latin America energy transition: challenges of circular cities and regional interconnection” to discuss what will take for the region to achieve a more sustainable energy system.

The focus of the event were sustainability, circular economy and Enel Group’s pillars: projects’ measurement and improvement, assets and materials’ circular planning, circularity and smart cities.

Traditional vision on energy is changing and innovation is the main player in this process. We choose an open model of cooperation and interconnection between region’s countries to maintain service quality and increase resilience.

Maurizio Bezzeccheri, Head of Enel Latin America

During the webinar - opened by Maurizio Bezzeccheri and moderated by Maria Alejandra Martinez, Head of Enel Communication for Argentina - the commitments of regional main stakeholders were shared and discussed.

Carlos De Miguel, Chief of the Policies for Sustainable Development Unit at CEPAL presented the CEPAL’s position paper titled “Building a new future: a transformative recovery by equity and sustainability”. De Miguel spoke on the importance of sustainable development for Latin America, that must be combined with active redistributive policies to reach zero poverty.

Luca Meini, Head of Circular Economy at Enel Group spoke about “Circular Cities in Latin America”. He said:

“Enel is collaborating with institutions, companies and associations to develop a vision of future circular cities with the goal of reaching economic competitiveness, sustainability and inclusion. We are working with all our suppliers to foster circular economy, applying it to our key value chains.”

Meini was one of the contributors of the paper “Cities of Tomorrow: The Circular Cities”, written together with Enel Foundation Managing Director Carlo Papa and Angelo Facchini - Imt School for Advanced Studies, published on ISPI website and part of Enel Foundation contribution to the debate on circularity and resilience of global cities. Thanks to his experience and expertise, Meini gave a full vision on possible perspectives related to develop more sustainable and resilient cities in the region, building on the recent Enel Group’s position paper “Ciudades circulares – las ciudades de mañana”.

The discussion of regional interconnection’s development was the core of this event, examined in depth by Enel Foundation’s research series on Variable Renewable Energy Sources (VRES) and grid interconnections in South America.

Giuseppe Montesano - Deputy Director of Enel Foundation, after a presentation of Enel Foundation fundamentals, fully described the Research Series, discussed as well during a webinar during which Enel Foundation’s investigation on the most prominent challenges to the decarbonization process in the continent, as emerged from the COVID-19 outbreak, was also underlined.

The analysis of VRES potential at a continental level showed that cross-border grid interconnections can:

-   contribute to install more VRES thanks to an enhanced evacuation capacity from areas with best resource and to the possibility of mutual support and reserve sharing;

-   further contribute to reduce the risk of VRES curtailments while also improving the security of supply, offering a better management and higher resilience of the system.

Regulations at national and international level are key to unlock new opportunities for green energy generation sources and clean energy infrastructure to support the whole system, including simplifying and speeding up procedures to authorize “green” investments and project development.

Followed Jesus Tejeda, Lead Energy Specialist at Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), speaking about the importance of energy integration at regional level, highlighting how to structure and develop such initiatives which need an ongoing dialogue between countries on technical, economic, social, environmental, legal and political aspects.

The cooperative relationship between public and private actors was a central axis of the webinar and the last contribution was given by Jose Enrique Martinez, General Manager of Empresa Proprietaria de la Red, who detailed the countries’ efforts in the development of Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) over several years. He also shared the results achieved to date and the lessons learned, highlighting the importance of financing through the participation of Multilateral Development Bank (BMD), as has been the case of the IDB in the region.

“No one can achieve these projects alone. Working together and building interconnections is fundamental to achieve energy transition and sustainability is key, both at a social and environmental level, in order to look after natural wealth and biodiversity” said Bezzeccheri closing the event.

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