United States and the IDB Create Energy Innovation Center for Latin America

By Dialogo
April 19, 2010

The U.S. government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have agreed to create an energy innovation center for Latin America, it was announced at the opening of a conference of energy ministers in Washington. The U.S. Department of Energy will provide financial and technical assistance for the study center within the IDB, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced before signing the document with IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. The center will function as an “incubator of ideas” for the region, the IDB explained. Chu asked around thirty energy ministers from the region for their cooperation in order to confront the challenges posed by the region’s growing needs and by climate change. The United States considers its energy relationship with Latin America “as a relationship of equals, not between senior and junior partners,” he affirmed. The IDB will be able to double its financing for clean and sustainable energy in the region to about 3 billion dollars annually between now and 2012, following the bank’s recent capital increase, Moreno announced for his part. This year the bank will lend 1.5 billion dollars for projects related to renewable energy, in comparison with 457 million in 2008. Latin America currently gets only 0.7% of the energy it consumes from clean sources, concretely 1.9 gigawatts out of a total of 267 gigawatts, according to IDB data. About 20% of the Latin American population, living in poverty, lacks official access to electricity. The IDB is preparing loans worth 1 billion dollars for Haiti for the complete renewal of its energy generation model, to take better advantage of wind, water, and solar power.