Business solutions to enable access to energy – Outcomes of Buenos Aires dialogue released

Geneva, July 10, 2012 – The Argentine Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEADS) has published a summary report on a dialogue it organized in mid-March in Buenos Aires to discuss the business contribution to enable access to clean, reliable and affordable energy. 

The dialogue, which gathered some 20 stakeholders from companies, the public sector, and civil society, discussed a range of business strategies to enable a sustainable energy future for all.

Marcel Engel, Managing Director of the WBCSD’s Development Focus Area, presented the highlights of Business Solutions to Enable Energy Access for All. This WBCSD study, launched in early 2012, features the key opportunity areas for scaling up this business contribution in expanding access to energy – innovative business models, enabling policy frameworks and financing mechanisms – and provides recommendations on how to enable these opportunities.

The dialogue in Buenos Aires also featured the launch of the Spanish version of the above mentioned WBCSD publication.

For his part, Horacio Cristiani, Chairman of CEADs and CEO of Gas Natural Fenosa, spoke about the inclusive business model developed by the company to support extension of the natural gas network in low-income neighborhoods on the periphery of Buenos Aires. The model involves working with a respected local foundation to mobilize the local community to establish a community trust, which provides a collective guarantee to pay for the extension of services as well as supporting the network extension. The model also helps individuals obtain access to microcredit to help them pay for their individual connection costs. The program supported extension of service to 11,000 people in its first five years. It resulted in significant reductions in household energy expenditure (from 13.8% to 3% of income) which demonstrates the benefits for households and provides the additional revenue to support their investment in a network connection. The connection to the network also increases the value of customers’ housing.

Alejandro Di Natale, Head of Sustainable Development at EDENOR, which distributes and markets energy to 2.5 million customers in Northern Buenos Aires, spoke about the measures developed to assist low-income families in maintaining access to electricity and to reduce illegal connections. The company has transitioned many customers to pre-paid meters, providing them with more direct control over their electricity use and avoiding payment difficulties associated with standard 60-day billing. The company has complemented these measures with a household energy efficiency program aimed at helping customers reduce their consumption. The overall impact of these measures has produced average cost savings of 37% for customers without affecting quality of service.

A second round of discussions focused on the topics of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

In that context, Siemens’ Carlos Galtieri gave a presentation on sustainable urban development solutions, sharing the company’s vision of future cities and urban megatrends, as well as the role of energy in this urban future and its correlation with living standards. He emphasized the potential of energy efficiency measures across urban infrastructure and services, underlining their contribution to a more sustainable society.  His final message focused on the need to advocate and work on educating the urban population around energy demand, rather than only focusing on satisfying that demand.

Lastly, Sergio Raballo of Capex, a producer of oil, electricity and gas, spoke about the company’s ambitious wind and hydrogen projects in southern Argentina (Patagonia). He explained that the project of producing hydrogen by electrolysis based on renewable energy sources responds to the global challenge of creating a new energy vector that can complement demand for hydrocarbons, thereby mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases and diversifying the energy matrix. The aim of the projects in Patagonia is to supply the potential demand of local, regional and international energy markets for transport, industry and residential use as well as power generation. According to Raballo, the most important challenges on the road ahead are the creation of strategic alliances and partnerships, complemented by an adequate regulatory framework and incentives to scale up renewable energy projects.

The discussions in Buenos Aires took place in the context of the WBCSD’s Access to Energy initiative, which recognizes the major role that business plays in the expansion and transformation of the energy system. It provides recommendations to scale up business action and investment. The Initiative has 21 participating member companies and is led by ERM, GDF SUEZ and Schneider Electric.

The WBCSD is facilitating a series of country- and/or regional-level dialogues on access to energy through its Regional Network partners and locally-based member companies in view of seeking to examine the key opportunities and challenges for business within the local context. This will help ensure that the key messages of the WBCSD Access to Initiative are applicable in a broad range of contexts and particularly in the countries where energy access is both a major developmental challenge and a potential opportunity area for business. 

In addition to Buenos Aires, dialogues have so far taken place in Washington, D.C. (see highlights) and New Delhi (see highlights). 

Download the 4-page summary in Spanish of the Buenos Aires dialogue


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