Why the Latin American renewable energy sector needs to convene

Summary: The Latin American renewable energy sector has developed well in part because of solid institutions and increasing access to transparent information. The next step in its evolution is an annual event where the regional  industry can meet to celebrate its successes, to honor its leaders, and to debate the issues.  That event will take place in Miami this October.

Carlos St JamesAbout the AuthorCarlos St. James is an advisor to energy investors and developers in emerging markets. He co-founded the Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber in 2005; has been a board member of the Latin American & Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy since 2010; founded the Middle East-Americas Energy Council in 2014; and publishes the Latin American Energy Review in his free time. LAC-CORE Finance Summit

 He was recently named Summit Chairman of the upcoming LAC-CORE Finance Summit held at the Ritz Carlton in Miami, Florida this October 3-5.


I became involved in renewable energy over a decade ago. My wife and our kids had emigrated from the U.S.; at the time it seemed headed to becoming a post-9/11 nightmare of increased global warfare. We sought a better world for our two sons and found it in Argentina.

My timing was very lucky indeed: suddenly there was opportunity in biofuels and renewables in that beautiful country via new laws and mandates, and I found a uniquely American way to insert myself in an industry in which I knew absolutely nothing: by creating the Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber (CADER) and helping establish solid foundations to a nascent industry. I later also helped establish new publications, some in Spanish, some in English, as another way to help facilitate the exchange of information and ideas about the industry.

Working to establish those foundations across Latin America has become an important part of my life’s work, a way to continue to help create a better world for my sons. Besides being a facilitator/consultant/developer/investor in the private sector, I currently serve as a board member of the Washington, DC-based Latin American and Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy (LAC-CORE).

But the final piece that still needs to be firmly established is an event where the industry can meet – where all stakeholders come together.

That event is the LAC-CORE Finance Summit, held this coming Oct. 3-5 at the Ritz-Carlton in Miami.

I ask that anyone that wants to have a voice in the direction of our industry in these critical times attend LAC-CORE’s Summit. It is the place where problems are thrashed out, debates held, new contacts made and old friends revisited — and where the opportunities and direction of the industry will be made clearer.

We need you to be there to hear your voice.

The Summit has the full support of eighteen country-specific and diverse associations such as, for example, the Guatemalan Renewable Energy Association; the Uruguayan Wind Energy Association; the Colombian Council on Energy Efficiency; see the complete list here. As a matter of fact, one of the panels will have some of these institutions addressing the strategies, challenges and successes they’ve had and how they go about uniting a complex sector to speak as one authoritative voice.

It’s about Financing

But as its name indicates, the Finance Summit has a primary focus on capital: the hardest stakeholder to bring to the table. For example:

  • a panel comprised of bankers from all major continents, all lenders in the region, including Banco Itau, BBVA, Sumitomo Mitsui, Citibank — discussing their plans for the coming years;
  • a panel on climate change finance opportunities, where topics such as the growing use of green bonds in Latin America will be addressed;
  • another panel focusing exclusively on early stage financing, with some new and innovative lenders and investors seeking to connect with projects and how their development can be financed;
  • there will be a panel on the role of supranational, inter-governmental and non-governmental lending practices;
  • the equity side is equally well represented. There will be more than one panel focused on investors and pension funds, with fund managers from some of the largest renewable energy funds present;
  • … and there will be an opportunity for developers seeking investors at the annual Investment Pitch segment, where selected developers can present their projects to a panel of investors and receive feedback — and perhaps the funding they need. The winning project receives an award, but all projects will get significant visibility. Anyone interested in presenting their project please write to info@lac-core.org. You get a free pass to the Summit as well.

The public sector will be very present as well, as this is the event where we can compare & contrast their programs. One of the most anticipated panels will be the one in which senior energy ministry officials from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and Cuba discuss why their countries took the different paths they did to attract investment, along with frank discussions on their successes and challenges – with heavy participation from the delegates themselves.

Cuba itself will hold court in a very anticipated keynote, with the presence of a senior energy ministry official addressing what the island nation is doing to attract investors within its complex situation.

And we will celebrate leadership. This year, LAC-CORE’s annual Clean Energy Award goes to Ramon Mendez, past Director of Energy at Uruguay’s Ministry of Energy and Mines. Under his stewardship, it has built perhaps the region’s most successful renewable energy sector. Ramon will be on hand to provide a keynote after receiving the award and talk to the international press — which will also be very present at the Summit.

Additional topics to be addressed:

  • A panel on the outlook for Brazil;
  • A panel on Argentina addressing the anticipated results of its soon-to-be-oversubscribed 1 GW renewables tender;
  • A panel on Mexico’s energy reforms and renewable energy auctions;
  • A panel specific to solar photovoltaic;

You can download the latest program here.

And throughout, a number of social events in the context of the beautiful Ritz Carlton hotel setting:

  • an outdoor cocktail party on the evening of Monday, October 3rd overlooking the beach;
  • a leadership dinner on the evening of Tuesday Oct. 4th;
  • breakfast briefings;
  • and long coffee breaks to ensure plenty of time to network.

LAC-CORE has partnered with Greenpower Conferences to ensure a smoothly run event. I have been authorized to offer a 20% discount ($400 savings!) to those that register this week. Please go to this link to register. There are still a limited number of hotel rooms available at a super-discount, too.

I am counting on you to be there. Please contact me as well (cstjames@SantiagoSinclair.com) if you’d like to meet or need me to facilitate introductions.

See you in Miami!


© Latin American Energy Review 2016

About the Author: Carlos St. James is the Managing Director of Santiago & Sinclair, LLC, a financial advisory firm focused on renewables in emerging markets. Carlos co-founded the Argentine Renewable Energies Chamber (CADER, by its initials in Spanish) and was its first President until 2011; is a board member and was elected the first President of the Latin American & Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy (LAC-CORE); is the founder and chairman of the Middle East-Americas Energy Council (MEAMEC); and founder and publisher of The Latin American Energy Review. His private sector background is focused primarily on finance and bringing together stakeholders so that deals get done. He advises governments on renewable energy policy, counsels private equity firms seeking to enter the region; and brings together stakeholders, including investors, for new energy projects.

He obtained his undergraduate degree in international economics from DePaul University and his masters in international relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

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