„I repeatedly find the Latin American spirit of pragmatism and optimism most astounding and extremely pleasant.“
In what respects are individual Latin American countries now ahead of Germany?
In contrast to Germany, many Latin American countries have relied on auctions for the use of wind and solar energy from the outset. The corresponding electricity prices are therefore also very low and are coming close to those of fossil fuels. Regrettably, Germany has only recently taken the step towards auctions.
STEAG has been active as an investor and operator of a power plant in Colombia for almost 20 years and the experience has been consistently good. How do you rate the interest in cooperation with foreign energy companies?
We involve business representatives in a large number of our events on Latin American energy policy. Against this background, I can only confirm a favorable view. Foreign investments, technologies and a general exchange of information on the energy industry are welcome here. Even in countries where the principles of the social market economy are not quite so pronounced, there is usually a great deal of interest.
Latin America is rich in natural resources – how important is climate policy? What are the differences between countries?
Those differences do exist, and the 2018 super-election year with elections in Mexico and Brazil, among other countries, is likely to reinforce this development. Mexico and Brazil could reduce their climate policy ambitions. Brazil is already taking this step. It has now become an oil exporter with the potential to overtake Venezuela. And Mexico wants to increase its security of energy supply and exploit domestic oil and gas reserves even more. At the same time, other countries such as Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay are moving more and more in the direction of renewable energy sources, making them even more ambitious nations in terms of climate protection.
What do you think is the greatest energy and climate policy challenge facing Latin American countries in the future?
For those states which have extensive fossil energy resources, the development of the global oil price and the economic exploitation of shale gas, including its LNG shipping, will be important. This is reinforced by geopolitical developments triggered by the US government and the increasingly critical view of China’s involvement in the region. For countries with few fossil energy resources, the development of technologies such as networks, storage solutions, decentralization, and financial and legal frameworks for the use of energy from local renewable sources, especially in cities, will be crucial.
The institution KAS and you yourself come from the energy transition nation of Germany – does the 10,000 kilometer distance as the crow flies play a role?
Yes, the decision in favor of the energy transition and its implementation, including the associated difficulties – the keywords being the Coal Commission and Hambach Forest – are being followed closely here, and Germany’s importance in this respect must not be underestimated.
Which experiences can you contribute to Germany in return? I repeatedly find the Latin American spirit of pragmatism and optimism most astounding and extremely pleasant. Many circumstances here demand it, so to speak, but especially with a view to digitization Germany could benefit from taking some of it on. I have the impression that the network coverage here not only seems to be better than in Germany, but actually is.