Q&A Series: César Santos Shares His Views on the Future of Flexibility in the Caribbean

César Santos is the Managing Partner at Magnetar Global Partners. Santos is an energy professional with more than 22 years of technical experience in project finance for energy assets, renewable and sustainable energy, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) sectors, business development as well as project and financial management. Previously, Santos was a Professor and Program Director at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) & Escuela de Organización Industrial (EOI) or School of Industrial Organization in Spain for eight years with a focus on financial curriculum and renewable energy. 


Please describe yourself and your work.

I am the Managing Partner of Magnetar Global Partners, an energy strategic consulting and advisory firm based in Dominican Republic and Madrid, Spain. I have been working for 17 years as an energy professional and have over 22 years of technical expertise in all forms of power generation. My career has included roles and responsibilities from the evaluation of investment opportunities to the gamut of energy development, commercial operation, and asset management. From a financial standpoint, I have experience in the preparation and emission of corporate bonds, project and corporate financial management, and project finance for renewable and thermal energy assets. In public policy work, I have led the design, development, and implementation of project initiatives, including public-private partnerships (PPP), on sustainable development with renewables. I believe that sustainable energy innovation will bring profound societal changes and unique economic opportunities. 

You are passionate about sustainable energy innovation. In the journey to a zero-carbon economy, you mentioned this change will be driven by a variety of factors. Could you describe your thoughts on this process?

I believe sustainable energy innovation will bring profound societal changes and unique economic opportunities. The Climate Change Challenge (CCC) based on a zero-carbon economy and sustainability concepts, shaping the new economic model of the world. But this model is primarily based on sustainability as one of strong pillars of the present and near future. That is why I believe that innovative solutions, relentless research, and technology in the sustainability sector can bring positive changes to our society. 

The energy sector needs to evolve and change toward a more efficient and renewable future driven by 3D + 2E: the three D’s (decarbonization, digitalization, decentralization) and two E’s the electrification of mobility (E-mobility) and electrification of heat (E-heat). This strategy pushes us toward Industry 4.0 and smart cities to the next level of the technological evolution.

With your expertise in economics and policy, how do you see energy as a stabilizer or catalyst in the Caribbean region and on a global scale?

With the 3D + 2E strategy, the new smart energy systems will be more sustainable, resilient, reliable, and secure, but these new initiatives need to be based on a healthy return of the investment through a good tariff structure and realistic economic signals. 

Renewable energy production, flexibility, energy storage, infrastructures, and consumption will combine into a new dynamic system. This system will be coordinated through the enabling disruptive technologies (IoT, blockchain, big data, AI) with the energy services providers, utilities, final end-user, and the new players, the aggregator, electric vehicles, and prosumers. But we cannot move forward if we do not create a stable and efficient capacity building system to educate and prepare our human capital to face these challenges.

What made you want to join the Path to 100%?

For me, energy is everything. That is why, as an energy professional, I work with energy balances from different perspectives: economic, physical, environmental, social, etc. I think a deep connection and strong interconnection exists between us and the environment. This is why I believe in a more sustainable future for our next generations based on new, renewable, efficient, and innovative clean and sustainable energy technologies.

Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put that to work in Dominican Republic, Caribbean Region, and Spain.

At Magnetar Global Partners, we believe sustainable innovation is crucial to reach a renewable energy future. From the commercial and legal perspective, we originate, structure, and negotiate engineering, procurement and construction contracts (EPC), power purchasing agreements (PPAs), financing and operation and maintenance (O&M) agreements for our clients in the renewable energy sector. From a financial standpoint, we have experience in corporate bonds, financial management, and project finance for renewable energy assets. From the private, public and academic perspectives, we participate in the design, development and implementation of projects and initiatives on sustainable development, conventional and renewable energy technologies, innovation and sustainable energy fields. This type of work gives an organization an entirely different position in their industry, with a different perspective and a different future. I enjoy being part of that process.

How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?

We need to evolve to be environmentally conscious, to improve the way to doing business, and create value to the stakeholders being more responsible with the planet, using innovation as a pillar to produce positive externalities to the society.

What do you believe are the greatest areas of opportunity for Caribbean Region renewable energy sector?

The Caribbean region is one of the most exposed regions to climate change impacts with an intense annual hurricane season. Due to this, the energy system has an excellent opportunity to improve its flexibility and resilience.

Now, what do you see as the primary barriers or challenges Caribbean Region faces on its path to clean, affordable energy?

As I mentioned previously, the region needs to work on the flexibility and resiliency of the energy sector, from the regulatory, economic, environmental, and social perspectives. We must build sustainable infrastructure with a primary focus on renewable energy and energy storage concepts and integrate decentralization in its plan because, with these criteria, we can create resiliency to face climate change challenges.

Finally, how can your country lead in the path to 100 percent renewables? And what progress do you envision for the region over the next few years?

The Dominican Republic is a leader of renewable energy in the region. The country already implemented an extensive residential energy storage system two decades ago, but it now needs to improve it. At utility scale level, the country has renewable energy technology, which includes solar, wind, and biomass, and a representative of decentralized solar rooftops.  Those improvements are significant. 

I believe the country has enough renewable energy resources to increase its sustainable energy targets and is in an excellent position to improve the system flexibility needed to increase its renewable energy penetration. This fact gives it the opportunity to wait for the next level of technological evolution to keep the target on the path 100%.