Mercado de generación distribuida de Argentina: El diablo está en los detalles

Mercado de generación distribuida de Argentina: El diablo está en los detalles

Cecilia Aguillón
Institute of the Americas Director, Energy Transition Initiative
March 8, 2019
This article was fist published in PV Magazine

Durante d√©cadas, los mercados de generaci√≥n renovable distribuida (GD) han estado creciendo en el hemisferio occidental en √°reas fuera de la red. Sin embargo, los proyectos fotovoltaicos conectados a la red est√°n en apogeo, en la mayor√≠a de los pa√≠ses Am√©rica Latina que est√°n desarrollando sus programas de transici√≥n energ√©tica. El √ļltimo pa√≠s en anunciar la promulgaci√≥n de leyes para el mercado GD es Argentina.

En diciembre de 2018, Argentina public√≥ regulaciones para implementar la ley No. 27.191 para acelerar su mercado GD, descentralizar las fuentes de energ√≠a, reducir las emisiones y crear empleos. Al igual que con la mayor√≠a de las medidas legales y reglamentarias incipientes, el √©xito depender√° del dise√Īo de pol√≠ticas adecuadas que atraigan la inversi√≥n local y hagan crecer su mercado GD en forma sostenible. El momento no podr√≠a ser mejor, ya que los costos de la tecnolog√≠a renovable se encuentran en su nivel m√°s bajo en la historia, y Argentina puede aprender de las lecciones significativas de mercados m√°s maduros, evitar errores y adaptar las mejores pr√°cticas a su conjunto √ļnico de condiciones.

 

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Los mercados de generaci√≥n distribuida en Am√©rica Latina han estado creciendo en los √ļltimos diez a√Īos gracias a la r√°pida ca√≠da en los precios de los equipos solares y al aumento de los costos de la energ√≠a convencional. En enero, PV Magazine inform√≥ que Brasil alcanz√≥ un total de 500 MW en instalaciones de GD. Un a√Īo antes, la revista inform√≥ que M√©xico hab√≠a superado los 400 MW en 2017; y es muy probable que el mercado mexicano ya haya superado los 500 MW. Los pa√≠ses centroamericanos tambi√©n han estado desarrollando sus mercados, aunque a un ritmo m√°s lento Pero vale la pena mencionar que el l√≠der del mercado en las Am√©ricas sigue siendo California, donde la Comisi√≥n de Servicios P√ļblicos (CPUC) inform√≥ que 7.6 GW de capacidad instalada acumulada fue lograda al final del a√Īo 2018.

Desde los mercados altamente promocionados como California, M√©xico y Brasil, vemos pol√≠ticas en com√ļn como son el aumento de los costos de la electricidad convencional, la f√°cil interconexi√≥n y la medici√≥n neta. Sin embargo, la medici√≥n neta puede no ser un motor de arranque en Argentina donde los distribuidores de electricidad y los operadores de la red parecen opuestos a esta pol√≠tica. Adem√°s, los precios de la electricidad en Argentina son artificialmente bajos, y actualmente se encuentran cerca de los USD $ 0.05 / kWh. Sin embargo, a partir de ese desaf√≠o hay una oportunidad para que el gobierno reduzca sus subsidios a la electricidad al mismo tiempo que sustituye las fuentes de energ√≠a limpia con un programa de GD bien dise√Īado y ejecutado. Cada vez est√° m√°s claro que existen opciones para que Argentina pueda superar su conjunto √ļnico de desaf√≠os.

Si reducir los subsidios a la energía es políticamente prohibitivo en Argentina e incluso los precios solares actuales no son rentables para la mayoría de usuarios, el mercado de GD podría beneficiar a los grandes consumidores de energía en el sector industrial que actualmente pagan más de USD $ 0,10 / kWh.

El Salvador y Guatemala, por ejemplo no ofrecen medici√≥n neta y el exceso de generaci√≥n de sistemas fotovoltaicos se compensa a los precios de mayoreo, pero su recuperaci√≥n es de casi menos de 5 a√Īos, seg√ļn los instaladores locales, porque las tarifas de electricidad actuales son de dos d√≠gitos. Para mercado de grandes usuarios de energ√≠a, la facilidad de las reglas de interconexi√≥n y el acceso a financiamiento de bajo costo pueden ser incentivos suficientes. Esto podr√≠a crear un impulso para acelerar la industria local, ya que los proveedores e instaladores de tecnolog√≠a fotovoltaica pueden crecer, competir y reducir los costos de instalaci√≥n. Si el pa√≠s desea llegar a los consumidores residenciales que pagan menos de USD $ 0,10 / kWh, el desaf√≠o es mucho mayor.

La Comisi√≥n de Servicios P√ļblicos de California enfrent√≥ una situaci√≥n similar al implementar la Iniciativa Solar del Estado. Aunque las tarifas de electricidad eran altas para comenzar, la tecnolog√≠a era un 80% m√°s cara que hoy, por lo que la energ√≠a solar no era factible cuando se cre√≥ la Iniciativa. Los subsidios se dise√Īaron para pagar los kWhs de energ√≠a solar producida por los clientes, pero los subsidios solo duraban cinco a√Īos porque ese fue el tiempo estimado y aceptable para el retorno de la inversi√≥n. De manera similar, los clientes de energ√≠a solar argentinos podr√≠an obtener un subsidio basado en la producci√≥n de kWhs por un corto per√≠odo de tiempo como incentivo para acelerar el mercado, especialmente cuando la medici√≥n neta no es una opci√≥n.

El f√°cil acceso y el bajo costo de financiamiento pueden ayudar a Argentina a promover el mercado de GD de manera efectiva. Am√©rica Latina es conocida por sus altas tasas de inter√©s, a menudo m√°s del 10%. A pesar de que los costos de la energ√≠a fotovoltaica se encuentran en un m√≠nimo hist√≥rico, el pago de una tasa de inter√©s del 12% para un proyecto fotovoltaico industrial cambiar√≠a la rentabilidad desde un par de a√Īos si se compra en efectivo hasta diez a√Īos o m√°s cuando se financia. Por lo tanto, Argentina podr√≠a dise√Īar un programa de pr√©stamos con tasas de inter√©s m√°s bajas que las actuales. El fondo podr√≠a recuperarse y regenerarse para ayudar a los futuros clientes. Un financiamiento factible podr√≠a hacer que los proyectos de GD sean rentables y el mercado crecer√≠a de inmediato.

Para que la Generaci√≥n Distribuida prospere en Argentina, las inversiones en energ√≠a solar deben obtener un retorno de inversi√≥n razonable. Tener eso en mente y al mismo tiempo asegurarse de que los distribuidores de energ√≠a paguen una tarifa justa por el exceso de kWhs puede parecer complicado, pero estos son dos de los detalles m√°s importantes a considerar para que las pol√≠ticas de GD muevan al mercado. Afortunadamente, varios pa√≠ses en el mundo le brindan a Argentina un men√ļ de herramientas de pol√≠ticas que se pueden modificar y adaptar para arrancar un mercado con √©xito.

 

USMCA and Latin American Energy Diplomacy Under a New US Congress

USMCA and Latin American Energy Diplomacy Under a New US Congress

Dec 11 2018 – Washington DC

November’s midterm elections altered the balance of power in Washington, and the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, which will mean new chairs on key committees, will play an important role in shaping US energy diplomacy and energy markets in the Western Hemisphere. At an event co-hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue and the Institute of the Americas, panelists discussed how the new Congress will approach key issues affecting energy within the context of Latin America’s evolving role in US trade and foreign policy.

In his keynote remarks, Nelson Cunningham, president of McLarty Associates, stressed that the approval of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will take center stage as the new Congress assumes power, with major consequences for North American trade. Though the Democratic base has become increasingly pro-trade, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats may be reluctant to yield a major political win to President Donald Trump, and Pelosi could attempt to stall a vote on the deal as she did with the Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2008.

At least publicly, Democratic leaders have expressed their desire to work with the president on reaching an agreement, which could deliver some minor improvements over the original North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but they have concerns about elements related to labor and the environment, as well as about the deal’s overall enforceability, panelists noted. It remains to be seen whether the president is willing to negotiate or will resort immediately to his nuclear option: a unilateral withdrawal from NAFTA, which would leave Democrats with six months to decide between the USMCA and the grim alternative of no free trade deal at all. All parties would lose in North America’s highly integrated energy industry, including US refiners and gas producers that import crude oil, steel, and aluminum from both neighboring countries and export heavily to Mexico.

Beyond trade, Congress also has broad powers in global energy diplomacy. The House has important influence on areas such as foreign aid, tax policy, and natural gas exports. Panelists discussed strategic goals the new Congress can pursue next year, such as preventing oil from becoming part of conflicts in the region and reinforcing political stability and good governance. In particular, two new committee chairs will shoulder special responsibility in setting the agenda. Representative Eliot Engel, who will take the helm as chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, brings a strong track record in US-Latin America engagement, having previously chaired the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee. Representative Albio Sires will assume the top role on that subcommittee, and will emphasize his tough stance on Venezuela and on Cuba, where he was born. Closer cooperation on energy in the hemisphere will benefit both the US and Latin American partners, and in the current complex political environment, the new Congress should resolve not to let it fall by the wayside.

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).

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 ‚Äúnormalize‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äúcomplex transition‚ÄĚ 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.