Women Empowerment in Renewable Energy Program

Women Empowerment in Renewable Energy Program

October 2018
Jacqueline Sanchez Pando, Energy & Sustainability Policy Associate at the Institute of the Americas is currently participating in the Women Empowerment in Renewable Energy Program developed by the US Department of Energy and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The program’s objectives are to support participants to expand their knowledge and skills in the renewable energy sector (i.e. technology, markets, policies, economic and social dimensions); to further their understanding of the energy-women nexus & the possible link to energy poverty; and to expand their professional network to other regions of the world.

The aforementioned program initially hosted a group of 50 female executives, government officials, and academia in their mid-career in the field from APEC’s 21 economies.

Jacqueline and a group of fifteen fellow participants have been nominated to attend the one-week face-to face training in APEC HQ in Singapore to take place in late Oct. early November. The training will bring policy, gender and business experts to widen participants learning of social, gender and environmental co-benefits of renewable energy developments. It will take place during Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW).

La Jolla and Thousand Oaks Welcome Top Argentinian Science Journalists For a Biomedicine Workshop

La Jolla and Thousand Oaks Welcome Top Argentinian Science Journalists For a Biomedicine Workshop

With over 200 established biotechnology companies, Argentina has the second largest concentration per capita in Latin America. The largest category of biotech companies in Argentina belongs to Human Health. Its R&D investment intensity surpasses that of the Seed sector and receives roughly 146 million dollars, participating in almost 20% of total biotechnological R&D. This dynamism is further highlighted by the fact that two-thirds of these biotech companies were founded less than a decade ago. There over 40 research institutes dedicated to bio sciences and notable university programs specializing in this field.

The strength of the biotech sector in Argentina, the strong biotech sector in San Diego and Thousand Oaks, and the over 15 years of experience that the Institute has organizing professional journalism training workshops for Latin American journalists, brought together top tier journalists from Argentina for a week-long workshop focused on Biomedicine. From April 15th to 19th, the Institute of the Americas and Amgen co-hosted this program and invited eight distinguished Argentinian science journalists: Alejandra Folgarait, Federico Kukso, Valeria Román of Infobae, Florencia Ballarino of Perfil, Nora Bär of La Nacion, Florencia Maria Cunzolo of Clarin, Matias Loewy of Medscape, and Lucas Viano of La Voz for this unique opportunity to conduct innovative, hands-on, and experiential learning through this pilot program.

In San Diego, the distinguished guests were introduced to its innovation and biomedicine ecosystem. Dr. Mary Walshok, Dean of UC San Diego Extension and also an Institute Board Member, opened the event by framing the San Diego case within a sociological context that outlined important factors leading to the creation of this vibrant ecosystem. The event included representatives of important innovation intermediaries including Devora Rossi, Senior Innovation and Commercialization Manager at the Office of Innovation & Commercialization of UC San Diego, Jennifer Landress, Sr. VP and COO of Biocom, and Steve Hoey, VP of the Springboard Accelerator Program and Innovation Research at CONNECT San Diego.  The program also included a presentation from Argentinian serial entrepreneur Diego Miralles, CEO of Vividion Therapeutics and dinner with local ex-pat scientists and researchers.  Additionally, Matthew Bresnahan, Partner of Intellectual Property at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, discussed intellectual property and patents and Albert Vazquez, Business Angel at Tech Coast Angeles San Diego, shared the importance of angel investment for the growth of an innovation economy.

The workshop facilitated the opportunity for journalists to visit innovation centers such as Biolabs, Calit2, Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, and Illumina. These site visits enabled the journalists to see firsthand the processes and investigations which occur in the facilities and be inspired by the prospects of bio medicine for the future.

At Thousand Oaks, the delegation visited Amgen’s headquarters to analyze more in depth the case study of a successful bio pharmaceutical company that started small and has now become a world leader in biotechnology and medicine that addresses serious illnesses. The journalists enjoyed an engaging overview from Sr. VP and General Manager of the Intercontinental Region, Gilles Marrache before presenting their own analysis of the Argentinian ecosystem.

The highlight of the program for the journalists was the first and second sessions of a modified Amen Biotech Experience (ABE) which the Amgen Foundation offers to empower teachers to bring biotechnology to their classrooms. Led by Professor Martin Ikkanda, creator of the content for the ABE Program, the delegation explored how to engineer DNA molecules to express genes coding for human biologic medicines. They inserted a gene, made a protein, and purified it during two short lab sessions.

The program included TED-style talks (TAD Talks – Technology, Amgen, and Design) to present and discuss important topics to science including Biosimilars, Science Education, and Immunology  presented by three Amgen executives.

Motivated by the newly restructured focus of the Institute: Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Energy & Sustainability, we hope to continue to offer journalistic programs focused on innovation reporting and innovations to reporting methods as one of our pillars in the Institute’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Program.  These efforts seeks to convene different stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem in order to help educate, inform, and inspire leaders that will have a multiplying effect on these important hemispheric issues. Capacity building workshops, journalism initiatives, and STEM student and teacher camps are ways that we are helping harness the innovative potential in Latin America. The Institute seeks to increase its involvement throughout the region and continue to provide opportunities for collaboration and growth.

Argentina’s Energy Outlook: Normalization and Boosting Compettiveness

Argentina’s Energy Outlook: Normalization and Boosting Compettiveness

Continuing a discussion begun in 2015 on the key elements facing the energy sector in Argentina, the Institute of the Americas convened an Energy Roundtable on March 21 in Buenos Aires.

The Roundtable counted three high-level discussion panels and was attended by over 75 representatives from industry, government, and academia. The panels at the Roundtable featured optimistic and robust discussion of Argentina’s energy sector, but particularly the structural adjustments and reforms enacted by the Macri administration.

The efforts to “normalize” the sector are beginning to pay dividends with an improved fiscal outlook and institutional and market credibility. A series of regional integration projects and energy exchanges with neighboring countries, ones that were but dots and lines on a power point slide just 2-3 years ago, are now a reality.

But amid the optimism and positive outlook, there were words of caution. Of greatest concern for all segments of the energy sector are the impacts of stubbornly high costs and inflation, elements that have and will continue to impede competitiveness but particularly the development of the highly-touted Vaca Muerta unconventional play in the country.

Beyond managing labor costs, the topic of how to boost a more competitive oil and gas sector focused on the need to greatly expand not just the number and capabilities of service and equipment providers, but also to exponentially increase the amount of operators in the country’s oil patch. One panelist persuasively argued that an increase on the order of ten times the current number of market participants is required to develop a competitive oil and gas ecosystem; a growth in not just majors, but all manner of companies and expertise.

The profound transformation of the global energy sector is clearly being felt in Argentina panelists concurred. Indeed, the country’s renewable energy auctions were oversubscribed and highlighted as an important step. However, panelists tended to agree that the adoption of key tenets of the energy transition are moving slowly with deployment of renewables hindered by financing and the country’s boom-bust and default legacy, while significant advances on storage and electrification of the transport sector seem farther off in Argentina.

Mexico’s Fuels Market and Infrastructure – A Complex Transition

Mexico’s Fuels Market and Infrastructure – A Complex Transition

Mexico’s energy reforms have brought a major overhaul of the nation’s entire energy sector. Among the myriad changes being implemented, major opportunities have emerged with regards to Mexico’s fuels and liquids market, as well as infrastructure development associated with fuel sales, supply, storage and distribution. Mexico’s fuels market is the fourth largest in the world and has experienced considerable growth in the last several years making it attractive to a wide-range of companies and investors. Growth is driven by transportation, power demand and underpinned by strong population growth.

Last year saw several deregulation milestones met on the path toward a liberalized fuel market, as well as important advances in open seasons aimed at ultimately boosting related infrastructure, both in liquid fuels and natural gas.  In what has become a rapidly changing market, a growing list of international companies, traders and Mexican firms have begun to develop projects with an eye to establishing themselves in Mexico’s fuel and liquids business.

This “complex transition” was at the center of three high-level discussion panels hosted by the Institute of the Americas on February 27 in Mexico City and attended by over 90 representatives from industry, government, and academia.

Panelists generally agreed that development of the fuel market was on the right track and that the reform measures had boosted investment in energy infrastructure. The proliferation of new market players (40 brands as of this week) in the fuel retail market and the choices being created for consumers is important.

But, there was less consensus on whether Mexico would soon see a truly competitive fuels market that could fully serve the growing demand in Mexico and its citizens, not to mention what the key next steps should be before the July elections. In an interesting development, several speakers put on the table the need for further energy reform in Mexico. Panelists also argued that government and industry alike must continue to aim for efficiency, continuity, stability and long-term regulatory certainty.

Event Summary: The Trump Administration, Latin America and Energy: Mexico, Natural Gas and LNG Exports

Event Summary: The Trump Administration, Latin America and Energy: Mexico, Natural Gas and LNG Exports

Energy continues to be a bright spot in the US-Latin America relationship and new developments, like an uptick in US LNG exports, offer opportunities to increase energy security and cooperation across the Western Hemisphere, said panelists at an event co-hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue and Institute of the Americas on December 15th.

Energy plays a central role in bilateral and trilateral cooperation with Mexico and Canada. The United States is working to expand this cooperation through increased data sharing for cross-border transmission, generation, and renewable energy mapping, as well as through technology sharing for carbon capture and storage, noted Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary Beth Urbanas.

The three countries work on energy issues both trilaterally and through larger multilateral efforts like APEC and the G20. Mexico also recently joined the International Energy Agency and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), providing two additional avenues for cooperation. Mexico joining NERC benefits both Mexico and the United States, noted Mark Nelson, regional vice president and director of issues management at Sempra, as Mexico can help provide system reliability and voltage support to the United States in times of energy distress.

Investment by US companies in Mexico following its energy reformhas also strengthened bilateral energy ties. Oil majors are entering the downstream space in Mexico, even though they are largely divesting from those assets in other countries, said Carlos Sole, partner and Latin America practice co-chair at Baker Botts.

A recent uptick in US natural gas exports represents another significant opportunity for US-Latin America energy trade and investment, said John McCarrick, deputy assistant secretary at the Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources. LNG exports – which began in earnest just last year – reached 465 billion cubic feet in the first 9 months of 2017, already 2.5 times greater than total 2016 LNG export volumes. LNG exports are projected to reach 4.4 trillion cubic feet by 2035.

At the same time, Latin America is increasing its capacity to receive LNG. Regasification capacity in the Americas, excluding the United States and Canada, will reach 50 million tons in the next few years, said Leslie Palti-Guzman, director of global gas at Rapidan Energy Group. Central America and the Caribbean alone will account for 8 million tons of this regasification capacity, and will be a significant growth opportunity for US LNG exporters.

These terminals may see low utilization rates, however, as LNG is used more as a backup fuel in Latin America. But the flexible contract terms offered by US LNG exporters and the United States’ geographic proximity make the fuel particularly attractive as a backup to baseload power and intermittent renewable energy. In Brazil, for example, US LNG is imported when hydropower supply is lower during the dry season, said Edmar Luiz de Almeida, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro’s Institute of Economy. In Central America and the Caribbean, US LNG can also help fill the vacuum left by Venezuela’s Petrocaribe shipments, which have fallen sharply in recent years, and a decline in shipments from Trinidad.

Going forward, the US government may try to create a more favorable regulatory environment for gas exports, but the success of US LNG exports also depends tremendously on global gas demand.

By Rebecca O’Connor, Inter-American Dialogue

Brazil Energy Horizon

Brazil Energy Horizon

Brazil’s compelling energy profile demands continued consideration. The country is the eighth largest energy consumer in the world and third largest in the Americas. In terms of production Brazil is the ninth largest globally and trails only the United States and Canada in the Western Hemisphere. In South America, Brazil is second only to Venezuela in oil production terms. But the country faces critical questions for attracting energy investment.

Brazil’s Finance Minister Joaquim Levy and a wide range of government representatives and industry executives convened at the Institute of the Americas’ Brazil Energy Roundtable on October 23 in Rio de Janeiro to contemplate whether Brazil was at the dawn of a new energy era.

Despite strong economic headwinds, Brazil’s energy sector has proved surprisingly resilient. But it is important to disaggregate the various segments of the sector. Significant progress in renewable energy deployment and increased natural gas for power generation, as well as laudatory emissions reductions targets in advance of the Paris climate meeting must be separated from the discouraging performance of Brazil’s oil sector. Even the power sector, though facing financing issues will see more immediate returns from fiscal balance measures being developed by the government. The same is not true for the oil sector.

There are signs that the elements of a broader macroeconomic recovery exist, but only given important contingencies and tough decisions being made by the federal government and all of Brazil. For the energy sector, how the country’s authorities manage the oil sector and adopt a more flexible posture are critical. And while the power sector is, by comparison, in a better position the question of financing and how the BNDES financing gap will be filled remains unanswered. There are a litany of tough choices facing both the government and industry alike in Brazil’s oil sector, not the least of which is how Petrobras will emerge from its debilitating corruption scandal.