october 3, 2023
Many developing countries struggle to design and execute successful renewable energy procurement programs and access international capital markets due to a lack of expertise as well as financial and political risks that discourage investment.
Create a one-stop platform for developing and emerging economies to catalyze large-scale private sector investment in renewable energy efficiently by streamlining the procurement process for governments and providing a guarantee fund to mitigate risks.
In October 2019, a Forbes headline called Argentina “the hottest renewable energy market you haven’t heard of,” noting how, with international support, the country’s RenovAr program had attracted billions of dollars in new wind and solar power investments in just three years.
It was an extraordinary accomplishment for a country that was mired in a fiscal crisis and, until 2016, had virtually no renewables besides hydropower. The head of the International Renewable Energy Agency called it “remarkable.” The International Finance Corporation, a partner in RenovAr, published a case study documenting the “extremely effective” effort.
The chief architect of RenovAr was Sebastián Kind, an energy sector veteran who had helped draft Argentina’s 2015 renewable energy law and was then charged with leading the energy transition as Undersecretary for Renewable Energy. At the heart of RenovAr’s success was a financial de-risking mechanism designed to help Argentina overcome barriers to accessing capital markets. Sebastián worked with international financial institutions to provide multiple layers of protection for investors, and local and foreign investors alike responded enthusiastically.
Within just over a year, RenovAr had successfully run three auctions and secured contracts for almost 4.5 GW of wind and solar power at progressively lower prices: just $0.041/kWh for wind in the third round, about 40% less than Argentina’s average cost of generation in 2015.
After receiving the 2019 Climate Breakthrough Award, Sebastián launched the Global Renewable Energy Mass Adoption Program (GREENMAP), renamed RELP in 2023, to share this successful approach with developing and emerging economies worldwide, free of charge.
From Vision to Action
RELP meets two critical needs. First, it provides an online platform for countries to build renewable energy procurement programs with proprietary models to determine the cost of renewables, design auctions, and even manage the entire tender process if desired. “This is the kind of tool I’d have loved to have: an innovative, reliable, one-stop platform,” Sebastián says.
Second, RELP is building an International Guarantee Trust Fund for Renewable Energy (iTrust) to help mitigate investment risks and thus make projects more financially viable, working with multilateral development banks, philanthropies, institutional investors, and other stakeholders.
“We are offering a one-stop solution designed to maximize the economic, environmental, and social benefits of the transition to clean energy,” Sebastián says. “Countries need new tools for the energy transition. That’s why we’re committed to not only leveraging our experience in Argentina, but designing and implementing new solutions.”
RELP is already working with Jamaica to strengthen the country’s renewable energy procurement program, with impressive early results. A procurement process in July 2023 attracted expressions of interest from 42 companies offering over 26 times the 100 MW sought. “We are very satisfied with the outcome,” the chair of the procurement entity said afterward. “We see a genuine interest in investing in the renewable energy sector in Jamaica.”
RELP is also supporting Pakistan in the design and implementation of a national renewable energy program to attract investment and scale up renewables at competitive prices, in partnership with the Islamabad-based firm PLANETIVE. In the Philippines, RELP is helping the government scale up renewables through market mechanisms and policies encouraging private sector investments. Most recently, RELP teamed up with the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to support countries all across the region.
“My dream is to make RELP the standard for the design and implementation of renewable energy programs in emerging markets and developing economies,” he said in a conversation with the IKEA Foundation.