Leader Profile: Juan Roberto Paredes, Clean Energy Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank

Amid surging oil prices and threats of global climate change, the need for alternative energy sources has become more urgent. Numerous global organizations are now pushing for the use of environment-friendly power sources.

In March 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) established the Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Initiative to promote renewable power sources, energy efficiency, and carbon financing among Latin America and Caribbean nations. Juan Roberto Paredes heads the renewable energy and energy efficiency component of this IDB initiative.

“Some of the current [renewable energy] technologies, like wind, are typical win-win situations, you diversify the energy matrix, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, [prevent pollution], produce jobs and in some cases even reduce current electricity prices,” said Paredes, who recently spearheaded a project that provided US$ 120 million in IDB assistance to a Brazilian wind rotor blades manufacturer.

As the bank’s clean energy specialist specializing on wind, Paredes – who joined the IDB almost half a year ago – is tasked to offer technical advice on the agency’s renewable energy investments.

“This includes support to private sector investments and loan operations as well,” Paredes said.

“The main support to the member countries is directed to increase capacity building and better regulatory frameworks for the successful implementation of renewable energies,” Paredes added, citing that the Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Initiative “tries to fill the gap between technical and financial feasibility for small developers who have to face difficult access to finance institutions.”

Paredes is also involved in IDB’s programs to create centers of excellence on renewable energy technologies and identify marine resources in the region.

“[Renewable energy] technologies are still unknown in many countries and their technical maturity and climate friendly advantages are not considered as an alternative to high oil prices and dependency on fossil fuels,” he said.

As such, the best consolation for this power specialist is the increase in public utilization of sustainable energy options.

“Coal and nuclear are again on the table while [renewable energy] solutions [are] in our hands,” he underscored.

In the future, Paredes hopes to boost the public awareness on climate friendly technologies among Latin American nations.

Before joining the bank, Paredes worked for leading European consultancy firms on wind energy, spearheading the installation of a 200MW+ wind farm in North Spain and conducting studies on photovoltaic water pumping and CFD wind resource modeling in complex terrain among others.

Switching careers from private to public sphere, Paredes remarked that “the number of barriers increase since access to finance in the public sector is limited.” He added that “bureaucracy and sometimes risk adversity make the work difficult.”

Paredes, a German citizen, attended undergraduate studies in physics and mechanical engineering at the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia. He obtained his master’s degree in renewable energies from Oldenburg University in Germany.

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