Renewables and innovation, the road to sustainable development in Latin America


"Today, investing in the development of the Latin American energy industry is an amazing opportunity for utility companies. The energy demand is supported not only by the great liveliness of the economy, but above all by population growth - the only real guarantee that energy demand will by supported over time”. The latter was underlined by Enel CEO Francesco Starace, who spoke at the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit on Latin America, which took place in Medellin, Colombia, on June 16 and 17.

In the first day of the summit, Starace, in his capacity as both Enel CEO and co-chairman of the WEF Energy Utilities and Energy Technologies Community, took part in the panel entitled Transforming Latin America's Energy Landscape. The debate was centered on the development of the energy industry in this large area of the world and how it can adjust to new global trends and challenges regarding fighting climate change and sustainable development.

Starace recalled the various activities that our Group is carrying out in Central and South America, and highlighted the great potential to develop an energy system based on the combination of different renewable resources, namely hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. A generation mix based on renewable and other sources, which should be strengthened, while building innovative and smart transmission and distribution infrastructure (smart meters and smart grids), to ensure increasingly efficient energy use.

“Granting access to sustainable energy at affordable prices – he said – is essential for the growth of Latin America”.

However, he added, institutions play an essential role in defining the rules of the game in order to promote the development of clean technologies and efficient energy systems. “The role of governments – he explained – should consist in setting the rules with a great degree of stability and transparency”. Therefore, a framework of legal certainty is necessary to support the development of the energy sector, allowing utility companies to invest within a clear regulatory frame. A point of view that was shared by the other participants in the panel, including the Executive Director of Swiss-based Pole Group South Renat Heuberger and Royal Dutch Shell Director Andrew Brown.

On the other hand, technological innovation and sustainable development were the topics discussed in the closing plenary of the Medellin WEF summit, on the definition of an Agenda for a prosperous future in Latin American countries.

During the debate, Starace pointed out that the cross-cutting topic of innovation is essential to ensure sustainable, inclusive growth. “Electricity generation from wind and sunlight also became a dream come true thanks to technological advance”, he recalled. Our CEO then concluded by calling on Latin American governments and populations to open up to the exchange of knowledge and technologies: “Sharing innovative ideas – he explained – is essential in terms of working on a prosperous and sustainable future”.

In Latin America, our Group is engaged not only in granting access to energy to the most remote communities, but also in promoting the exchange of technologies, innovations and best practices, among the various countries in which we operate. 

The development of renewable energy in emerging nations such as Latin American ones, (Starace explained in an article published by WEF in view of the Medellin summit) is a tool for counteracting the effects of global climate change, but most of all a formidable motor for innovation and creating shared value.