Latin America "is the world region with the highest penetration of renewable energies in its electricity generation", and among its countries, Panama seeks to become a node of storage and marketing of green hydrogen, Panamanian Secretary of Energy, Jorge Rivera, told Efe in an interview.
In this scenario, Panama is working on an energy transition "aligned" with the objectives of decarbonization and a balance between energy security, accessibility and costs for citizens, said the official.
Rivera cited 2021 data from the Latin American Energy Organization (Olade), according to which "of the 10 countries in the world with the cleanest electricity matrices, eight are from Latin America".
And Panama "is number eight in the world in that renewable electricity matrix. We were above 80% of our renewable electricity matrix, but we have Latin American countries with almost 100%. So we have a great advantage when it comes to talking about the energy matrix," he said.
The Government of Panama approved in 2020 the Energy Transition Agenda, the "roadmap to 2030 on these issues" and which is "fully aligned with the objectives of decarbonization," said Rivera, noting that "Panama is one of only three carbon negative countries" in the world.
This, without leaving aside other key objectives for Panama and the region such as "energy security, universal access and affordability in economic terms" for the population.
Latin America still has the pending task of "closing the energy gap, with some citizens still lacking access to modern forms of energy, which is also aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7," said the Panamanian official.
"Continuing to maintain and reinforce the objectives of decarbonization, having clean energy in a greater proportion without leaving aside all the elements of the equation, is part of the discussion we are carrying forward and one of the thematic axes that we will have at the meeting of the Council of Energy Ministers in December here in Panama," Rivera highlighted.
Panama will host the VII Energy Week, between December 12 and 16, organized by Olade, the Energy Secretariat of Panama and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with the collaboration of EnergyNet.
Panama is working on a specific strategy to become a node or "hub for storage, commercialization, transformation" of green hydrogen that is produced in the Latin American region, said Rivera.
Green hydrogen has become in recent years "a very important vector for promoting decarbonization". It is generated by splitting the water molecule into hydrogen and oxygen by applying an electric current, a process called electrolysis, he explained.
"In this process, it makes perfect sense for the electric current to come from renewable energy sources, and that is where Latin America is betting heavily on becoming a global supplier of this energy source.
Panama, said Rivera, is not directing its efforts in the short term to produce green hydrogen, as other countries in the region are doing, including Chile, Colombia and Mexico, which have "other conditions".
"Our competitiveness is a function of our geographical position (...) Panama is betting in the very short term on storage, transformation, commercialization of green hydrogen, which we would also be producing in the region, to redistribute it in the region," Rivera explained.
Latin America is "creating almost from scratch an international and regional market" for green hydrogen, in a process in which it can take advantage of the lessons learned with natural gas, "and that is what we are working on together".
"And part of these initiatives is what we want to develop, land and consolidate in the meeting we will have in December this year in Panama, a very important regional meeting to fine-tune these initiatives," he added.
The current global environment, marked by the armed conflict triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has put the spotlight on issues such as energy security and the need to continue innovating in this area.
"There are lessons learned that Latin America can share with these developed countries" that are now affected in energy matters by the crisis derived from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the Panamanian secretary.
This is part, he added, "of Latin America's own recognition that we can not only be recipients of initiatives, information, technology and knowledge, but that we can also share part of the development we have carried out".