Developing clean energy solutions in Latin America’s major cities

An introduction for subnational energy policy decision-makers. 

Sao Paulo, photo by Joao Tzanno (Unsplash)

Publication date: December 2017

This publication is intended to help sub-national energy policy decision-makers of major Latin American cities as they look to develop and implement clean energy solutions.

Our aim is to help local actors to understand, plan and execute initiatives successfully which, over time, will:

  • Save money, while increasing energy security
  • Increase standards of living and the supply of more efficient and sustainable energy solutions
  • Reduce the overall use of energy and greenhouse gas emissions

While each city has its own individual circumstances, many common challenges are faced by major cities which can prevent the uptake of opportunities for improved energy management, energy efficiency and innovation in their energy systems.

Due to the sheer size and complexity of large and megacities such challenges are typically exacerbated; yet the scale of the opportunities and related potential benefits are also much more significant.

Clean energy solutions have delivered substantial benefits to millions of citizens and thousands of businesses and civic institutions, providing material positive social, economic and environmental impacts. It is for these reasons that this publication has its focus on large and megacities, which collectively we refer to as ‘major cities’.

Challenges and solutions

We first focus on the reasons why cities have become the primary focus of clean energy solutions, and then reference the key challenges to energy planning faced by major cities with respect to limited technical and financial capacity and complex governance contexts. We outline these and other key challenges and provide illustrative strategies to overcome these challenges. With the background context set, the subsequent sections cover six building blocks to clean energy planning in the context of major cities in Latin America, highlighting some of the ways in which Latin American cities are responding to these challenges. We set out key recommended actions that city governments can take to support the necessary expansion of investment into energy efficiency and renewable energy. These are accompanied by supporting case studies and an overview of the relevant initiatives and tools which can facilitate material progress.


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