Clean Energy for the Americas

A two-day conference of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas kicks off, announcing new partnerships to produce clean energy in the Western Hemisphere.
Written by Melissa Mahony, Contributor

Representatives from 32 countries in the Western Hemisphere are convening today in Washington, D.C. to discuss energy and climate issues, —and hopefully, collaborate on many of them.

Launched last year, the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) seeks to combine civil and private efforts in North, Central and South America to take advantage of what each country has to offer in terms of clean energy. More than 200 businesses and non-governmental groups are also in attendance.

Reuters reported yesterday:

"We are looking for action, not just talk," said David Sandalow, U.S. assistant energy secretary.

Sandalow pointed out that 34 million people in the Western Hemisphere do not have access to electricity in their homes.

Up for discussion will be potential ways to foster clean energy resources and build energy security on this side of the Atlantic (or the Pacific, or the Poles). The conference is closed to most press, but in a statement, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the following initiatives:

  • Advancing a Caribbean Electrical Grid Interconnection: In support of a Caribbean Sustainable Energy Working Group, the DOE will provide technical support, including hosting a workshop to begin exploring the potential for a Caribbean-wide transmission system that would provide the region with access to electricity from renewable energy sources. By connecting electricity systems across Caribbean nations, the region can develop economies of scale and larger electricity markets, which can help to facilitate the transition to renewable energy, reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and make the island economies more secure. During the workshop, DOE technical experts, including specialists from the National Laboratories, will facilitate a discussion on ways to develop policies, regulations and standards to ensure the use of safe, reliable and efficient power.
  • Launching an Inter-American Development Bank Center: DOE and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed an agreement creating an Energy Innovation Center that will allow DOE and IDB to coordinate resources to facilitate regional projects and activities. The Center will serve as a focal point for project development and financing in the region and will be able to access the IDB’s annual energy financing pipeline of approximately $3 billion. The Center will be staffed by both DOE and IDB employees and will include week-long trips by subject matter specialists to the region to assess potential projects. The IDB Innovation Center is the latest in a series of Regional Clean Energy Centers throughout the Hemisphere, including a Costa Rican Energy Efficiency Training Center, a Wind Center in Mexico, an Energy Efficiency Center in Peru, and a Renewable Energy Center in Chile.
  • Developing Biomass Resources in Colombia: Under its Low Carbon Communities of the Americas initiative, the Department of Energy announced a project titled “Forming a Research, Development and Innovation Hub with Expertise in the Sustainable Energy Use of the Biomass in Colombia.” The project will partner DOE and National Laboratory experts with scientists and technology experts in Colombia that are involved in on-going research on sugarcane, palm oil and petroleum to help identify, evaluate and promote technologies for sustainable biomass use in Colombia. The project, which is being developed by the government of Colombia and supported by DOE, is focusing on developing a technological plan for power generation through heating sugarcane and palm residues at very high temperatures. This combined heat and power process will be able to be used for high efficiency gas-fired engines or gas turbines.
  • Hosting an Earthquake Preparedness Workshop: In response to recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Mexico that highlighted vulnerabilities to energy infrastructure, DOE announced that it will host an earthquake preparedness workshop, bringing together leaders in the region to hear from experts, including U.S. National Laboratories, on hazard characterization, risk-informed structural seismic design standards, advanced simulation capabilities for both ground motion estimation and structural response. DOE’s effort will build on a U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) initiative focused on the deployment of suitable communications and monitoring system technologies for earth.
  • Affirming Commitment to Clean Energy Cooperation: DOE and Argentina’s Ministry for Federal Planning, Public Investment, and Services signed a Memorandum of Understanding that promotes cooperation between the DOE and the Argentine Energy Secretariat on clean energy technologies. The new Binational Energy Working Group is developing additional areas for cooperation.

Image: Flickr/Flatbush Gardener

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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