You are here

Supporting Energy Integration in Latin America and the Caribbean


Working towards sub-regional energy integration: 20 participants from 13 Member States in the region attended the five-day coordination meeting. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean face growing energy demands and have identified as a priority the comprehensive analysis of energy supply and demand scenarios. In response, the IAEA launched a regional technical cooperation (TC) project[1] in 2018 which has trained 210 experts in 15 countries in the use of the Agency’s energy planning tools and methodologies. Following their training, participating experts across the region have developed three sub-regional studies on energy demand and two sub-regional studies on energy supply using the Agency’s Model for Analysis of Energy Demand (MAED) and its Model for Energy Supply System Alternatives and their General Environmental Impacts (MESSAGE).

The final presentation of the project results took place at the IAEA’s Vienna headquarters from 25 to 29 November in the presence of 15 policy-makers, experts and project counterparts from the region, including representatives from the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).  

Latin America and the Caribbean had a total population of almost 638 million people in 2018 and projections by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs suggest that by 2030 the region’s population will increase to approximately 721 million. This is expected to produce a corresponding growth in demand for energy, presenting an enormous challenge to national authorities as they work to establish the necessary conditions for sustainable social and economic development. Regional disparities in the availability of energy resources is a challenge, but it also presents unique opportunities for planning, collaboration and increased efficiencies.

In developing energy supply and demand scenarios, each country participating in the regional TC project had to review input data and assumptions regarding existing and future energy resources, fuel prices, economic and population growth, structure of energy systems and environmental impacts.  The regional energy development scenarios illustrated options to best balance the need to optimize the use of energy resources, to diversify the energy supply, to assure the safe and secure provision of energy, to reduce environmental implications and finally to assure affordable energy costs in the region.

The regional project has successfully delivered training in energy planning to more than 210 counterparts in 13 countries in the region. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

“In a view to generate institutional memory and to minimize the risks related to the mobility of trained staff, a planning manual was established in Uruguay which provides a detailed guide, clarifying which steps must be completed in order to develop or update relevant [energy] assessments and studies, and allows us to meet the objectives set for the year,” said Alejandra Reyes of the Uruguayan Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines.

With the benefit of new data on energy production, distribution and consumption throughout the region, the project counterparts were able to identify opportunities to increase efficiencies and promote sustainable energy sources through greater cross-border transmission and integration.

“During the implementation of the previous regional project, we were able to verify that sub-regional energy integration would confer many benefits, namely lowered costs, stricter environmental controls and greater energy security,” said Antonio Herrera Cruz, the Deputy Minister of Energy Security and Infrastructure in the Dominican Republic.

“The implementation of the previous project allowed Paraguay to update its national energy projections all the way to 2050! IAEA capacity building has allowed us to visualize the medium- and long-term growth of electricity demand, and to estimate when it would exceed current generation capacities,” said Daniel Eliseo Puentes Albá, the Paraguayan national counterpart for the newly-launched regional project.

Research shows that global demand for oil will begin to slow markedly after 2025, thanks in part to rising fuel efficiency and a transition away from conventional, diesel-fuelled motor vehicles. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

At the same time, the participants examined how energy, environmental and social policies outlined in each national energy plan aligned with the achievement of broader sustainable development and climate change mitigation goals throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The global ambition to meet the goals established in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will depend on the ability of energy policy- and decision-makers to sustain and expand access to clean, affordable and reliable electricity,” said Loreta Stankeviciute, an IAEA Energy Systems Analyst who helped steer the workshop. “Energy underpins the provision of clean water, health services, education and communication. And so, in order to fuel development, we must identify the best means of producing and accessing power.”

 The November 2019 meeting was also used to launch a new TC project[2], which aims to integrate the recently-developed national and sub-regional energy studies into an overarching regional plan for sustainable energy development in the region. The attending national counterparts explored a range of questions, including: Can neighbouring countries offer cheaper sources of energy? Can energy providers elsewhere in the region meet demands for baseline power, allowing neighbouring countries to further invest in renewable technologies? Would a single, regional energy market help to optimise use of energy resources and increase efficiencies? These topics will be clarified as the project counterparts work on the development of a new, regional integration plan, expected to be produced by the end of the 2020-2021 TC Cycle.  

[1] RLA2016, ‘Supporting Formulation of Plans for Sustainable Energy Development at a Sub‑regional Level - Stage II (ARCAL CLIII)’

[2] RLA2017, ‘Supporting the Preparation of Sustainable Energy Development Plans at a Regional Level (ARCAL CLXVI)’

Stay in touch