31 August 2016: Recently, at the International Energy Symposium in Mexico City, Mexico, stakeholders committed to sustainable development met to discuss the growing need for electricity in Mesoamerica and the resulting effects of this growth. The event, held on 17 August and sponsored by Mexican Chamber of Electrical Manufacturers, CANAME, and the Secretary of Energy of Mexico, in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Copper Association, gave manufacturers and industry experts the opportunity to share innovations and experiences.
Electricity demand in Mesoamerica is growing at a fast rate; an increase of over 120 percent is expected between 2011 and 2030, according to UNEP’s United for Efficiency (U4E) initiative. This increase results from an anticipated upsurge of the middle class, economic progress and increasing urbanization.
“The use of appliances and electrical equipment in Mesoamerica will dramatically increase in the following years. The region needs to accelerate the transition toward energy-efficient products, which contributes to the mitigation of climate change and the compliance of the Paris agreement,” said UNEP Director and Regional representative Leo Heileman, at the event’s opening.
Heileman added, “By consuming less energy, citizens, as well as the private sector, increase resource availability and countries increase their competiveness.” This translates into a decrease in power-generation infrastructure, freeing up capital for other needs, thereby avoiding blackouts due to over demand, and gradually reducing the use of energy subsidies.
Seven countries in Central America and the Dominican Republic are currently finalizing the adoption of technical regulations to establish minimum energy-efficiency standards and labeling for lighting products, motors, refrigerators and air conditioners. The current status and next steps to finalize these technical regulations were presented at this event.
The current harmonizing standard process in the region is “a successful step towards promoting energy efficiency in the countries, the competiveness of the industry, and complying with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Pablo Moreno, president of the National Chamber of Electrical Manufacturers of Mexico, partner of the UNEP United for Efficiency (U4E) initiative.
In addition, the process provides the opportunity to develop and strengthen other technical components, such as conformity assessment mechanisms for regional commercialized efficient products. Once the regulations are implemented, regional cooperation will grow, and resources and infrastructure will be better shared, allowing for compliance.
The Mexican Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquin Coldwell highlighted the common interest and collective purpose of the countries in the region to reinforce energy-efficiency measures by promoting policies that support the efficient use of resources. He acknowledged UNEP’s assistance through the U4E initiative in regards to access to climate funding to develop these initiatives.
While energy-efficiency standards and harmonized labelling are crucial steps in achieving market transformation, financial mechanisms that accelerate the transition to more efficient products are equally important. Examples of such mechanisms are joint replacement programs with distribution companies, already in place in many countries
“These types of mechanisms,” said Heileman, “are paramount to reduce the gap in the costs of energy-efficient products for the most vulnerable social classes in society and to eliminate the belief that energy efficiency is only for those who can afford it.” Access to climate funding schemes, including the Green Climate Fund, can accelerate the implementation of these mechanisms.
U4E works with a group of private and technical institutions and governments in over 50 countries around the world. Its objective is to promote energy-efficient products as well as to establish energy-efficiency standards and financial mechanisms, which accelerate market penetration.