June 9, 2022
Senior Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, President, Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
In recent years, the transition to clean energy and sustainable fuel sources has been an essential topic of conversation among world leaders. As the impact of climate change progresses, countries across the Americas and the world are working to source clean and renewable energy.
On Day 2 of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Department of State’s IV CEO Summit of the Americas, Marty Durbin, President of the Global Energy Institute and Senior Vice President for Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, moderated a panel on the future of energy transition and energy security in the region. Panelists Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, CEO of Inter-Energy Group, Shilpan Amin, President of GM International, Caroline Choi, VP of Corporate Affairs for Edison International, and Julian Nebreda, EVP and President of U.S. & Global Business Lines at AES, shared insights on the current energy challenges facing the Americas and what solutions exist for a more sustainable, stable energy industry.
Growing Pains in Energy Transition in the Americas
Transitioning to clean energy is imperative to the Americas’ success and safety moving forward.
“If we’ve learned anything … through the pandemic, it’s [that] the more you can be proactive in addressing issues, the better off you’re going to be when these crises [occur],” Amin said. “We believe the crisis is already here for climate change.”
Transitioning to clean energy requires utilizing various energy sources. While not always widely accepted, Gonzalez-Bunster has seen a shift in the public’s perspective of new energy sources over time.
“Everything is related to wind, solar, batteries, geothermal, pump hydro — whatever you get involved in is a matter of time,” Gonzalez-Bunster said. “It’s an evolution. I’ve seen over the years how people all over the world have changed on this as climate imperatives become more dangerous.”
“To get there, we’ve started a program of decarbonization,” he continued, describing how this transition has allowed companies to work towards a cleaner future by swapping out heavier fuels in favor of “clean energies like gas.”
The Path to Reaching Clean Energy Goals
Achieving clean energy goals isn’t immediate — it requires partnerships, collaboration, and a major global shift. Choi described how Edison International works with the state of California toward a clean energy economy.
“Forty percent of the U.S. utility industry is zero-emission today — hydro, geothermal, nuclear, and solar and wind,” Choi said. “[We’re] well on the path here in California to achieve 100% renewable energy.”
However, Gonzalez-Bunster emphasized the importance of setting realistic expectations for a gradual transition.
“I believe greatly that the future is renewables, but in the meantime, you’ve got to keep these lights on,” Gonzalez-Bunster said.
Investments in Clean Energy Alternatives
The future of energy needs to be sustainable, affordable, reliable, and digitalized, according to Nebreda.
“In our most recent strategic review, we decided to embrace this concept of accelerating the future of energy — bringing the future here,” Nebreda said. “So what does it mean? We say, clearly, it will be renewals.”
Investing in renewable energy and new technologies, such as batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, is important and something many companies are already doing, such as GM.
“We talk about making sure we secure material in a sustainable way,” Amin said. “It’s new investments; new ways to extract materials and build materials that are carbon neutral within our supply base, and in a resilient way. [It’s about] making sure [this is] done with allied partners we can trust, that the volume and the capacity will be there, and they’ll be secure as we need them.”
From the Series