The Ecuadorian National Committee aims to promote sustainable energy development in Ecuador, as a part of the World Energy Council’s energy vision. As a member of the World Energy Council network, the organisation is committed to representing the Ecuadorian perspective within national, regional and global energy debates. The committee includes a variety of members to ensure that the diverse energy interests of Ecuador are appropriately represented. Members of the committee are invited to attend high-level events, participate in energy-focused study groups, contribute to technical research and be a part of the global energy dialogue.
Mr. Mauro Intriago is currently Viceminister of Electricity and Renewable Energy. He is an electrical engineer from “Escuela Politécnica Nacional”, and has studies in logistics, standardized management systems and certifications of quality, environment and social responsibility.
In the professional field, he has been linked to the private sector, especially in the area of services. In his experience, he has positions in the Electric Company of Ecuador (EMELEC) where he worked as a distribution engineer. In the international field, he worked in DHL International - Ecuador, having responsibilities in the western area of Latin America. He has been an advisor, auditor and consultant in business matters, especially in the electricity area in institutions such as CELEC EP - Hidronación, Electroquil, INPROEL, and Electrical Construction companies.
Energy in Ecuador
An economic austerity package introduced in October 2019 by the Ecuador government led to a series of protests. The measures included gasoline and diesel subsidy reforms, which emerge as a priority for Ecuador’s energy leaders. Comparing 2019 and 2020 results, Energy Subsidies take over the Critical Uncertainties section. Hydro continues to define the Action Priorities section, while Renewable Energies are perceived as increasingly uncertain.
Energy Subsidies become the top uncertainty. In 2019, the government announced an end to fuel subsidies as part of public spending cuts agreed with the International Monetary Fund in return for a loan. Eliminating subsidies was part of the country’s plan to shore up Ecuador’s flagging economy. The government has agreed to restore fuel subsidies in a deal with indigenous leaders to end mass protests that brought the capital, Quito, to a standstill in October 2019. A targeted subsidy plan is being considered to benefit low-income households.
Trade Barriers are perceived with lower uncertainty but still with high impact. After a decade of protectionism, the new government (2017) has sought more trade flexibility without destabilising the dollarized economy. Ecuador has used the US dollar as its currency since 2000, which helps to contain inflation but does not make the country competitive in relation to neighbouring countries. Trade policy reforms are of concern to investors in energy infrastructure.
Innovative Transport remains a Critical Uncertainty, closely linked to fossil fuel reform, abundant ‘cheap’ hydroelectricity and the need to modernise urban mobility. Quito has the country’s first metro system and the first tram system, Cuenca, under construction. Electricity availability makes the country a strong candidate for electromobility solutions. Uncertainties remain for private users and road transport on EV technology maturity, charging infrastructure and additional grid reinforcements.
Hydropower remains as an Action Priority as the country seeks to make the most use of its oversized electricity generation infrastructure. Ecuador has installed capacity of 7.1GW (2/3 of which is hydro) while peak demand barely reaches 3.5GW. Exporting electricity to neighbours (Colombia and Peru) and expanding interconnection capacity could be a gamechanger for the Andean interconnected power system. Ecuador aspires to become a regional electricity exporter and is looking to diversify its renewables mix. In July 2019, bidding processes were launched for solar PV (200 MW) and wind (102 MW).
Electricity Prices become an Action Priority as the country seeks to harmonise its power costs structure and adapt it to a new generation system that relies on low marginal cost hydropower. Ecuador has one of the region’s lowest electricity prices for industry and residential sectors (on average 10 US cents/kWh). Although prices are unlikely to fall further, low cost electricity emerges as an investment opportunity for energy-intensive industries.
Energy Access appears as an Action Priority, even as the country enjoys a 97.05% access rate. The rural population is still behind, with access lagging at 89%. The Government has a National Rural Electrification Program which has been supported by the IDB since 2009. This programme is designed to widen and improve electricity access in rural areas This will allow households to replace cooking with LPG which has a high leakage and accident risk due to poor ventilation in dwellings.
Investment increase and energy mix diversification have been the main focus of attention of Ecuador’s energy leaders as highlighted by the 2018 World Energy Issues Survey. As action is being taken to ensure the country is less depended on oil for its energy needs, a sustainable progress will depend on Ecuador’s ability to create an attractive investment landscape and to reduce uncertainty on the political and economic fronts.