John P. Millhone
The Inter-American Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) Energy Project is a collaboration of the Science Academies of the Americas to apply advanced science and engineering to the sustainable energy programs in the western hemisphere. The collaboration focuses on six priorities: 1) energy for unserved populations, 2) renewable energy, 3) bioenergy, 4) energy efficiency, 5) capacity building, and 6) information and education.
The Project was inspired by a 2007 report by the InterAcademy Council, Lighting the way; Toward a sustainable energy future. The goal of the Project is to apply the recommendations of this global report in the Americas. The Project was initiated at the IANAS Workshop on Energy convened Oct. 30-31, 2008, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The report of the Workshop is available at Report Buenos Aires, Argentina 2008
In describing the Academies role in addressing the energy problems, the report says: The Academies of Science do not possess all the expertise required to solve these large and complex problems; part of the necessary knowledge and skill resides in the private sector, part in government. The Academies therefore need to become the hubs of networks, assembling, collating and analyzing information, and making coherent and balanced policy recommendations. The Academies also need to strengthen their understanding of the policy process, and of the social, political and economic factors that can constrain the choices available to governments.
The Workshop and continuing discussions identified the above six priorities. In Latin America and the Caribbean, some 90% of the population is connected to the electricity grid, but the average conceals a large disparity. In rural areas, 30% of the population is without access to electricity; more than 50% in five countries. A higher percentage is without modern cooking and heating equipment. The Americas have a rich and varied
mix of hydro, solar, wind, and other renewable sources. The integration of advanced forms of these resources into existing energy systems can diversify sources, improve security, and lower the carbon impact. Brazil is the global leader in the use of biofuels where next generation technologies can improve biofuel net-energy gains and provide options that don’t compete with food production. Energy efficiency can lower costs and lower carbon emissions the length of the energy chain from all energy sources through pipelines and smart grids to industrial, building, transportation and agricultural end uses. To realize these improvements requires capacity building at research laboratories, universities, and technical centers. Information and education programs must expand the awareness of these opportunities create an environment where sustainable changes happens.
The inaugural meetings of the IANAS Energy Project were held Dec. 6-7, 2010 and June 9-10, 2011, in Bogota Colombia, hosted by the Colombia Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences.
The meetings launched multi-country teams in each of the priority areas. The teams exchanged information on their current and planned activities, expanded participation to include additional countries, initiated collaboration activities with other national and international programs, and drafted project plans from 2011 through 2013. For more information about these activities, see [drop-down sites by their names.]
The Project strategy is to integrate its work with related activities, seeking opportunities for collaboration and avoiding duplication. The ICSU Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), the expanded Inter-American Development Bank programs and the Organization of American States are targeting the same countries as the IANAS Project. The global Clean Energy Ministerial, post-Cancun UN Framework Convention on Climate Change activities, and World Bank Group programs also are bringing new and expanded support for sustainable programs. For information on these overlapping activities see [dropdown sites].
In this expanding area, the IANAS role is to insert advanced science and engineering into these activities. As a multi-country initiative, it is seeking to identify the common
interests of groups of countries so they can improve the effectiveness and reduce the cost of collaborative programs.
The initial participants in the Project include 16 IANAS members: the Academies of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean Scientific Union, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, the USA and Venezuela. The scientific communities of Ecuador, Honduras, Panama and Paraguay are also participating. The Buenos Aires report points to the importance of expanding participation by scientific institutions throughout the Americas.
The participants in the Energy Project appreciate the financial support they have received from InterAcademy Panel, which has made the launching of this Project possible.