Carlos St. James
Latin American & Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy (LAC-CORE)
Carlos St. James is a leading voice in the development of the renewable energy industry in the region. He is the founder and was the first president of the Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber from 2007 until end of 2011; in early 2012 he took on his current role at LAC-CORE, an honorary post, and based in Washington. He is the author of a number of studies on the state of the industry in Argentina and the region.
Your perspective is now regional in scope. What are the relevant trends?
Total worldwide investment in renewable energy installed capacity totaled $280 billion dollars in 2011; it has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 31% every year since 2004, making it one of the fastest-growing industries anywhere. Of that total, $9.4 billion was invested in Latin America. Investment has been more volatile in our region compared to the world as a whole, but that is to be expected in an emerging market that depends in large part on capital from outside its own region. The growth rate has nonetheless been almost the same as global levels, which is quite impressive.
What countries in Latin America are receiving more investment?
Brazil is clearly the big winner. It received $7 billion of the $9.4 billion in 2011, and in previous years was also similarly dominant.
Where does Chile stand in this?
Chile received some $200 million in new renewable investment in 2011. But don’t let that figure mislead you: Chile is gearing up for far more investment in the coming years, as investment in Brazil levels off and investors take a closer look at alternative markets in the region. Chile has the highest-rated sovereign debt of any country, hungry for more energy, and is very well positioned.
What are the favored sectors or technologies?
Until a few years ago biofuels were attracting most of the investment – specifically, Brazilian ethanol and Argentine biodiesel. In recent years wind has become the preferred sector; in 2011, for example, $6 billion of the $9.4 billion invested in the region was in wind energy, followed by small hydro.
Carlos is joining more than 60 speakers at this year's Chilean International Renewable Energy Congress at which more than 300 people are expected: www.greenpowerconferences.com/cirec