New H2LAC Platform: Latin America's Green Hydrogen Power for the Global Energy Transition

The new platform aims to promote the development of a green hydrogen economy in the region.

On Tuesday 30 November, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the EUROCLIMA+ Programme, the World Bank and the Hydrogen Alliance presented the H2LAC platform, its partners and institutional visions on green hydrogen (H2V) in the region.

The virtual event, led by Mrs. Constanza Trujillo, featured welcoming remarks by Mr. Gonzalo Muñoz, High Level Climate Action Champion of COP25, who highlighted the importance of the sector for increasing the ambition of reaching a maximum of 1.5º Celsius temperature increase set by the Paris Agreement and the important opportunity that the development of H2V represents for the region to "sow a seed" for the rest of the world; opening opportunities for collaboration not only North-South but also South-South.

Mr. Max Correa, Head of the Fuels and New Energies Division of the Chilean Ministry of Energy, stressed that the H2V strategy generated by the Chilean Government will be implemented as a State policy, through serious and rigorous work, covering all possible areas so that this industry can be born. In addition, the Chilean Government is already operating as a hub for the establishment of a green fuel supply chain for the world (port of Antwerp, Rotterdam, Germany, and Singapore), which it wants to articulate with the rest of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

To conclude the first segment of presentations, the contents of the H2LAC Platform were presented by Mr. Rainer Schröer, Director of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Programme (4e) of GIZ Chile. Schröer pointed out that "the objective of the platform is to host a repository of green hydrogen projects at regional level in Latin America and the Caribbean in order to position the discussion at global level, since, so far, the discussion has been very focused on Europe". In this task, each of the actors that have joined forces to create the H2LAC Platform will take on different roles for the development of the platform according to their institutional nature.

This was followed by a space for exhibitions by different partners of the initiative:

First, Mrs. Jeannette Sánchez, Director of ECLAC's Natural Resources Division, stated that "ECLAC proposes the urgency of the energy transition and suggests that, given the high potential in hydroelectricity that we have at the regional level, we can use the surpluses to initiate the development of the H2V industry". "ECLAC is mapping the activities and programmes of agencies at regional and international levels to identify the feasibility, infrastructure and relative prices necessary for the emergence of this sector. Therefore, we propose to work towards a long-term regional vision that supports the development of concrete roadmaps (...) always thinking about the opportunity of the potential for regional energy integration," added the director.

Following ECLAC's presentation, it was the World Bank’s turn, represented by Mrs. Stephanie Gil, Director of the Energy Unit for LAC, who offered the institution's support for policy and financing aspects based on the creation of alliances and collaborations between countries and South-South and South-North entities to reduce costs and thus reach industrial scale. Mrs. Gil also highlighted that, given the restricted fiscal space available to countries, the World Bank can support with fiscal devices to accelerate the transition, such as developing carbon pricing or exploring innovative financial mechanisms to attract and increase the confidence of the private sector for a faster take-off of the sector, taking advantage of the region's competitive advantage without compromising other green technologies.

Horst Pilger, Head of Sector at EuropeAid's Directorate-General for International Partnerships, said that the regional cooperation organisation is currently setting guidelines for the H2V strategy through its European Green Pact, ensuring that it will be a viable option in the short and medium term, as well as its use in critical sectors for decarbonisation, such as the chemical or heating industries. To this end, the EUROCLIMA+ Programme represents a key piece in this dynamic, since "the programme has experience in promoting this type of work through communities of practice and project exchanges (...) to catalyse the technical-political discussion on this sector", the EU official added.

Finally, it was the turn of María Paz de la Cruz, Secretary of the Green Hydrogen Alliance in LatAm, who assured that the Alliance, a trade organisation formed in the wake of the last COP26 in Glasgow, will seek through four areas of work "to engage and articulate actors in the region to encourage the development of this industry and position LAC as a major supplier of green hydrogen in the future".

A third part of the meeting was a panel discussion with the participation of some of the Platform's actors:

Dr. Joseluis Samaniego, director of ECLAC's Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division, expressed ECLAC's conviction that H2V shares characteristics in three sectors: intensive employment, a smaller environmental footprint compared to other liquid fuels derived from hydrocarbons, and the possibility of generating an industry that is less dependent on the exterior, generating production chains within the Latin American and Caribbean chains. However, he pointed out that this generates two tensions: "on the one hand, competition to reach markets and collaboration to generate upscaling, and on the other hand, facilitating harmonisation to build up the industry," the director contrasted.

Along the same lines, Mr. Rafael Ben, World Bank Energy Specialist for LAC, assured that "we need to decarbonise more, and green hydrogen is an energetic vector that provides that extra where energy renovation does not reach. With renewable energies and green hydrogen we can decarbonise the industrial electricity sector and the transport sector, covering both internal and external demand".

The importance of the EU's role as well as the importance of engaging the private sector was highlighted by Mr. Bernhard Zymla, GIZ coordinator for the EUROCLIMA+ programme. Mr. Zymla also stressed the need to focus on implementation, financing, taxation and technology transfer, as well as to take a long-term view, making regulatory frameworks the main drivers of H2V demand in the electricity and transport sectors. 

At the end of the panel discussion, in which Maria Paz de la Cruz, Secretariat of the Green Hydrogen Alliance in LatAm and Mr. Rainer Schröer, Director of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Programme (4e) of GIZ Chile, again intervened, the host closed the event by highlighting the importance of the topic and reminding the audience of the site through which to access the H2LAC platform to mark the way forward.

About EUROCLIMA+    

EUROCLIMA+ is a programme funded by the European Union and co-financed by the German federal government through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as by the governments of France and Spain through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

The Programme's mission is to reduce the impact of climate change and its effects in 18 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, promoting mitigation, adaptation, resilience and climate investment. It is implemented according to the "Spirit of Team Europe" under the synergistic work of seven agencies: the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the French Development Agency (AFD), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Expertise France (EF), the International and Ibero-America Foundation for Administration and Public Policy (FIIAPP), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Euroclima is the European Union's flagship programme on environmental sustainability and climate change with Latin America. It aims to reduce the impact of climate change and its effects in Latin America by promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation through resilience and investment. 
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