Canning House hosts its fifth annual Renewable Energy Conference

  • Hermione Greenhalgh

The transition to clean energy has been largely embraced across Latin America. The region’s favourable wind, solar and hydro sources provide significant growth opportunities for national governments and investment opportunities for international businesses beyond the well-established markets of Brazil and Mexico.

Cristina Cortes and Mark Menzies M

Canning House, in collaboration with Eversheds Sutherland, hosted a conference on Thursday 14 March to inform UK investors of the developments over the past year: the main opportunities for clean energy investment, the possible risks, and the policy frameworks in place and their implications.

Cristina Cortes, CEO of Canning House, and Mark Menzies MP, Trade Envoy to Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, kicked off the conference, observing the tremendous potential in the region for more growth and the enthusiasm for working with UK businesses and experts in this sector.

Sir Roger Gifford, senior banker at SEB and Chairman of the UK Green Finance Initiative, delivered the first keynote speech, explaining that many of the UK’s green finance initiatives are applicable to Latin American markets, and can help increase energy efficiency. Sir Roger stressed the importance of challenging perceptions that “green” is synonymous with less profitable, and also of getting stakeholders from both the public and private sector round the table.

Sir Roger Gifford

The first panel discussion focused on project finance and other finance alternatives for renewables. Joining Sir Roger Gifford on the panel was Karl Petter Waern, Project Finance Legal Advisor at Equinor; Madeleine Tan, Project Finance Partner at Eversheds Sutherland US; Toby Roycroft, Infrastructure Advisor at BEIS; and Ruben Castrillo, Director of Project and Acquisition Finance, Energy at BBVA Latin America and Spain.

Sir Roger Gifford, Ruben Castrillo, Toby Roycroft, Madeleine Tan, Karl Petter Waern and Stephen Hill

The second and third panel addressed the important issue of the associated risks with investing in Latin American renewables markets, and what opportunities for private PPAs exist. A detailed picture of the political, social, economic and legal risks was painted by Jimena Blanco, Head of Americas, Politics, at Verisk Maplecroft; Simon Bunckenburg, Senior Underwriter at UKEF; and Greg Falkof, Partner, International Arbitration and Public International Law at Eversheds Sutherland. The speakers pointed to a number of strategies to mitigate risk, including consultation with local powerbrokers, financing risk through UKEF, and through looking closely at which countries are committed to international investment treaties. Darío Morales, Director of Studies at ACERA, and Diogo Mariath, Manager, Global Infrastructure Finance at Carbon Trust, then elaborated on how risk can be allocated in private PPAs. The discussions highlighted the importance of understanding risks as interrelated, and of going above and beyond to map these risks from the outset.

Greg Falkof, Jimena Blanco, Simon Bunckenburg, Cristina Cortes, Diogo Mariath and Darío Morales

The audience then heard two insightful keynotes from H.E. Mr Genaro Vicente Pappalardo, Ambassador of Paraguay, and Ramiro Gómez Barinaga, Legal Advisor to the Argentine Government for Renewable Energy - highlighting the opportunities and some of the challenges in Paraguay and Argentina’s renewables sector.

Finally, a panel discussion on government-led renewables programmes took place, with additional representatives from the Embassies of Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil. Each of the countries have set ambitious targets for decarbonisation in the next few years, and are keen for international investment to give their burgeoning clean energy markets even more momentum.

Pedro Tiê Candido Souza, Germán Espejo, Silvana Lesca Baroli and Ramiro Gómez Barinaga

Cristina Cortes and Stephen Hill, Partner in Energy & Infrastructure at Eversheds Sutherland, closed the event, giving thanks to Eversheds Sutherland for kindly hosting the event, to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for their generous sponsorship, and to the audience for their engagement in the Q&As.

If you would like more information on the conference and accessing Latin American renewables markets, contact [email protected].  

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