Advancing bioelectricity in Latin America and the Caribbean

 presentation  Comments Off on Advancing bioelectricity in Latin America and the Caribbean
Aug 092017

A new report reviews the first year of the LEDS GP’s Bioelectricity Community of Practice in Latin America and the Caribbean, and outlines its key activities and outcomes.


No. of pages: 27
Author(s): Alexander Ochs, Philip Killeen, Ana Maria Majano
Organisation(s): LEDS LAC, LEDS GP

The Bioelectricity Community of Practice, run by the Regional Platform for Latin America and the Caribbean (LEDS LAC) and Energy Working Group, brings together LAC government leaders in charge of designing and implementing bioelectricity policies and programs. It gives them the opportunity to share tools for gathering and processing bioelectricity data to support decision-making. This report describes the activities of the Community of Practice from its inception in July 2016, and identifies the primary areas for tapping into biomass for electricity generation.

During sessions, practitioners applied what they learned to their individual country contexts and had the opportunity to discuss their results and collaborate on shared challenges with supporting experts across several online forums, including private Dropbox and LinkedIn groups.

The Community of Practice addressed key questions such as:

  • How to assess a country’s bioelectricity potential?
  • What technical challenges exist and how can they be addressed?
  • What support policies and measures exist, and how can they be integrated in a country’s existing legal framework?
  • How to create effective and cost-efficient administrative procedures?
  • What do national and international commercial banks and public funders look for?
  • How to design fundable and attractive Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)?

Participants noted that governments in the LAC region often lack access to quality data and tools to evaluate alternative options for bioelectricity development. Some of the knowledge gaps identified included a lack of: information on developing effective communication and collaboration between government ministries; research on available technologies, regulations, and resource assessments for electricity generation from agricultural biomass; and case studies of successful bioelectricity generation in other countries. However, country members also felt that through bioelectricity is not only a low emission alternative to fossil fuels, but economically viable as well. Opportunities such as accessing private sector finance, aligning national and subnational energy policies, and building public consensus on NAMAs could help realize its potential.

Workshop facilitators collaborated with the attendees to design 2017 work plan for the Community of Practice to be supported by LEDS LAC and the Energy Working Group. The 2017 work plan picks out the following priority areas:

  • Designing a comprehensive process for bioelectricity policy development;
  • Assessing resource potentials for bioelectricity;
  • Understanding markets and tradeoffs; and
  • Creating attractive bioelectricity markets.

The work plan outlined in detail in the report provides a comprehensive starting point for Community of Practice members to more effectively communicate bioelectricity sector risks and opportunities to their home institutions. On its own, however, this framework cannot catalyze the transformative change that members hope to achieve. In order to  build on progress made in 2016, the report recommends continued group-oriented activities and country-specific technical assistance.

Explore the Community of Practice priority areas, online materials, and more essential information in the full report.

Read more about the benefits of bioelectricity and the background of the Bioelectricity Community of Practice.

Energy Low Emission Development Strategies: A Regional Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean and Experiences from Nicaragua

 presentation  Comments Off on Energy Low Emission Development Strategies: A Regional Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean and Experiences from Nicaragua
Dec 012014

Overall, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has traditionally been a world leader in the use of renewable energy sources for power generation (mainly hydro power), with important sub-regional differences, but the use of fossil fuels grew rapidly in the late 1900s. There have been many initiatives on renewables and energy efficiency on the part of governments and local organizations, supported by multilateral development banks, UN organizations, international NGOs. 

The recent development of non-traditional renewable energies (wind, solar, geothermal, modern biomass) is helping meet important development goals (growth, access, affordability) with a lower impact on greenhouse gas emissions. There are still important challenges related to investment climate, business model financing, but there are many lessons to share, both on what works and what doesn´t work.

Study on the Development of the Renewable Energy Market in Latin America and the Caribbean (free report)

 academic article/report  Comments Off on Study on the Development of the Renewable Energy Market in Latin America and the Caribbean (free report)
Nov 222014
Project Director: Ochs, AlexanderIDB study
Date: November 2014

The region of Latin America and the Caribbean is already a global low-carbon leader in terms of power generation from hydrological and biomass resources, and it recently has made great strides in developing its other renewable energy sources. Declining costs, maturing technologies, and vast untapped potentials for renewables offer an unprecedented opportunity for further development of the renewable energy market in the region. Continuing to invest in renewables will provide Latin America and the Caribbean with the opportunity to address key economic, social, and environmental challenges in the energy sector.

[Please find the study here.]

Webinar Announcement: Energy Low Emission Development Strategies: A Regional Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean and Experiences from Nicaragua

 webinar  Comments Off on Webinar Announcement: Energy Low Emission Development Strategies: A Regional Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean and Experiences from Nicaragua
Nov 192014

EWG Logo_Green text with no background color (3)LEDS_GP_logo

26 November 2014 9:00 AM EST

Check your local time.
Reserve your seat now.


The Regional Platform for Latin America and the Caribbean (LEDS LAC) and the Energy Working Group (EWG) of the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS-GP) are co-hosting a webinar on sustainable energy progress in Latin America and the Caribbean. The webinar offers both an overview of recent developments in clean energy policies, programs, and targets across the region and an in-depth case study on Nicaragua’s experience in facilitating private and public investments in climate-compatible energy development. The presentation details the mechanisms that Nicaragua’s investment promotion agency (ProNicaragua) has employed to attract private investment in order to meet the government’s national energy targets and policy objectives. The webinar will be in English and will feature the following presentations:

  • Introduction and moderation
    Ana Maria Majano, INCAE Business School/EWG Co-chair for LAC
  • Regional Overview: Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean
    Alexander Ochs, Worldwatch Institute/EWG Chair
  • Nicaragua: Promoting Private Investments towards National Sustainable Energy Goals
    Javier Chamorro, ProNicaragua
  • Q&A.

Continue reading »

Latin America Enjoys Abundant Renewable Energy but Lacks Policies for Use

 newspaper interview  Comments Off on Latin America Enjoys Abundant Renewable Energy but Lacks Policies for Use
Jun 182013

South and Central America could generate 100 percent of their electricity with renewable resources, a new study finds

By Lisa Friedman, Climatewire, picked up by Scientific American [here] and others

Latin America and the Caribbean could meet 100 percent of their electricity needs with renewable energy, a new Inter-American Development Bank study finds. From Mexico to Chile, countries already are producing higher levels of clean power, but the study notes the region still has a long way to go. Last year just 5.4 percent of the $244 trillion global renewable energy investment went to Latin America. But with Latin America’s economy expected to grow 3 percent annually, the study argues that the region will need to nearly double its installed power capacity to about 600 gigawatts by 2030 at a likely price tag of $430 billion.

The report, “Rethinking Our Energy Future,” will be released today at a Global Green Growth Forum meeting in Bogota, Colombia. It comes amid growing concern among energy experts that the region is not living up to its clean energy potential. (…)

Last week the Worldwatch Institute think tank in Washington, D.C., unveiled a Central America report also showing the region has the resources and the technical capacity to meet all its electricity needs with renewables. But, it argues, governments are undermining their own investments in geothermal, biomass, wind and solar with plans to increase imports of oil, coal and natural gas.

“Central America is at a crossroads,” Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, said in the study. According to the study, Latin America currently generates about 7 percent of the world’s total electricity production, but demand is skyrocketing as population levels rise and the region’s economy improves. By midcentury, Latin America’s power demand is expected to triple while carbon emissions from the power sector will double. Continue reading »

Moving Renewable Energy Forward in Nicaragua

 blog  Comments Off on Moving Renewable Energy Forward in Nicaragua
Sep 132012

Adam Dolezal and Alexander Ochs | ReVolt | 13 September 2012

Para una versión en español de este blog, por favor hacer click aquí.

Last week, the Worldwatch Institute’s Central America team – together with our partners from the INCAE Business School – convened a working group of nearly 40 renewable energy experts and decision-makers in Managua, Nicaragua. The emphasis: access to energy for marginalized communities through sustainable energy options. With presentations and participation from the government’s renewable energy office, Nicaragua’s renewable energy association, an array of rural energy initiatives, and the region’s largest wind power developer, the working group took our research and potential for impact to a new level.

Participants from the workshop The Way Forward for Renewable Energy in Nicaragua at INCAE Business School Campus in Managua, Nicaragua.

Worldwatch Director of Climate & Energy, Alexander Ochs, incited the round table forum to recall that the overarching goal of our efforts is not to promote renewable energy technology for its own sake– as so often the discussion can remain caught in technical details – but for the environmental, social and economic outcomes that clean and locally-generated energy provides. Renewable energy is a means to reach overarching policy priorities: giving access to modern energy sources, mitigating local pollution and climate change, and addressing important gender, health, and education issues. In a region where countries ship 5 to 15 percent of their GDP overseas for the import of fossil fuels-the use of which produces high additional social, environmental and economic costs- harvesting domestic renewable energy sources is a prerequisite for sustained economic growth. Continue reading »

Experts Assess Future of Renewable Energy in Central America

 newspaper interview, press release  Comments Off on Experts Assess Future of Renewable Energy in Central America
Aug 302012

The Worldwatch Institute and the INCAE Business School host high-level workshop on energy access and renewable energy potential in Central America

WASHINGTON – August 30 – The Worldwatch Institute ( and the INCAE Business School’s Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS) are co-hosting two workshops on “The Way Forward for Renewable Energy in Central America” in Managua, Nicaragua and Alajuela, Costa Rica tomorrow and on September 3, respectively. The participative dialogues aim to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences among a select group of experts from regional institutions, civil society organizations, energy sector companies, and government agencies. The workshops will focus on the role of renewable technologies in broadening access to modern energy services and achieving regional development goals.
“This project is a joint effort aimed at speeding the development of renewables in Central America,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program. “Key energy experts will gather in one room to discuss the region’s challenges and opportunities in embracing renewables, discussing state-of-the-art reforms as well as areas of local, national, and regional best practices.”

“It’s not just that all countries will need to contribute to mitigating and adapting to global climate change.” continued Ochs. “Central America can become a real leader on renewables, given the high price it pays for its current energy system—-some countries spend 10 percent or more of their GDP on importing fossil fuels. The region has also had exciting early experiences with adopting new, unconventional renewable technologies, including geothermal, solar, biomass, and wind technologies.”

The first workshop will take place at the INCAE Business School’s Managua campus from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 30, 2012. The second workshop will take place at the INCAE Business School’s Alajuela campus from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 3, 2012.

[You can find the full announcement HERE]