Claudio Huepe Minoletti is an economist with more than twenty years of experience in both the public and private sectors committed to economic analysis, public policies and regulation, mainly in natural resources, energy, water infrastructure and sustainable development.
Please describe yourself and your work.
Claudio: I am an economist, working on sustainable development and energy. I work part time at Universidad Diego Portales, where I teach, research, and liaise with the public and private sector on public policy issues. The rest of my time, I work as an independent consultant, mostly for private companies.
During my career, I have focused mostly on the analysis and development of public policies and the impacts of projects and programs, using economic analysis (including quantitative and prospective methodologies) integrated with social, legal and political perspectives to develop useful products. I have also coordinated and managed research and dissemination projects.
I was a founding partner and director of a consulting company for over 10 years and later worked at the National Energy Commission and the Ministry of Energy, where I oversaw the creation of departments dedicated to long term studies and established links and joint projects with international organizations, such as the United Nations Secretariat, the International Energy Agency and the European Commission. I was also an advisor for the first United Nations Global Sustainability Report and am on the board of the Chilean Council for Strategic Foresight.
What made you want to join the Path to 100%?
Claudio: I believe exchanging ideas and experiences on long-term visions for the energy sector is crucial for sustainable development, as energy is one of its most significant elements and where renewables are the core.
Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put that to work in Chile.
Claudio: Renewable energy is an opportunity not only for a greener planet but also for solid long-term economic growth with possibilities at various scales and for multiple uses. There is a large potential and creativity must be put to work to untap it. While working at the Ministry of Energy on long-term policies we promoted not only the role of renewables in the energy mix in the medium to short term, but also the role that renewables (in all sorts of uses, from electricity to fuels) can have in a development, which is at the same time a strong driver of economic growth, of environmental protection (locally and globally), and socially acceptable and beneficial activities.
How would you like to see your work implemented on a global scale?
Claudio: I would like to see more efforts on making the energy sector a strong driver of economic growth, where all countries participate and not only as neutral technology users, but as users and developers that seek to maximize the impact, especially for local development.
What do you believe are the greatest areas of opportunity for Chile’s renewable energy sector?
Claudio: In the short-term, the large-scale electric renewable sector is quite well developed, but I see an extraordinarily strong opportunity for small-scale, decentralized development of electric renewables, as well as local production. In the longer-term, there is great potential in green hydrogen, which can be relevant in all sorts of uses, such as transportation, storage, gradually replacing natural gas, and other uses. In the future, there are also opportunities for other forms of renewable energy.
Now, what do you see as the primary barriers or challenges Chile faces on its path to clean, affordable energy?
Claudio: Up until now, the effort has been on affordable and secure energy provision, which has worked quite well in terms of the spread of renewables. Turning renewables into a source of economic growth would be the next step, but this requires a more active role of the public sector and greater public investment, which Chile has avoided until now.
Finally, how can Chile lead in the path to 100 percent renewables? And what progress do you envision for the region over the next few years?
Claudio: Chile is already quite advanced in terms of renewable penetration and its strategy already considers a major role for renewables — with 70 percent in the electric sector. Yet, working toward 100 percent renewables means a very relevant change in focus. On the one hand, it requires not only looking at the electric sector, but beyond. It is in this area where Chile could strengthen its leadership in renewables. Furthermore, it must seek ways to have a more renewable electric sector by reducing the role of gas, primarily because coal is already in the process of being phased out.
Photo: Olga Stalska on Unsplash