Carolina Barco

By:Bernice J. Alvarez King Issue: Biennial of the Americas 2010 Section:The Americas Roundtables

Renewable Energy: It’s the Direction We’re Going

Carolina Barco As we all know, many countries in the Western Hemisphere can produce and provide various means of energy such as crude oil, coal and ethanol. However, what is needed for these countries is renewable and alternative energy sources that are not reliant on finite resources.

According to Carolina Barco, Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. who chose to ride a bicycle to the event in her dress suit, a shared electricity grid, similar to the one in Mexico, could prove beneficial for countries like Panama and Colombia. They could share the technology, the infrastructure costs, and ultimately the energy outputs. “We need to think as a region how we improve the way we can be efficient in the use of energy,” Barco said.

Unlike Colombia, some countries in the hemisphere lack natural resources for energy and they are forced to choose between the cost of fuel or other needed programs such as education and healthcare. Barco argued that energy rich countries could choose to share with the countries lacking in resources and make the grid beneficial for everyone, with any excess energy sold back to the grid. She said, “With populations expanding, energy needs will continue to grow as will the need for renewable energy. We must find a solution,” she said, “It's a quality-of-life issue for poorer countries to cope with soaring energy rates as demand increases.”

Another concern is the high cost, high pollution, and shrinking resources to fuel traditional transportation methods. There is a need for alternatives. More sustainable options for many countries could include paths for bike riders and walkers or light rail systems that are quickly emerging and growing in popularity and integrate into current roadways while reducing the number of vehicles on the road. Another option, while not “sexy,” includes special bus lanes which reduce traffic idle times and consolidate drivers.

Barco posits that, “Fundamental energy collaborations are imperative for the hemisphere as energy leaders create partnerships for more affordable energy options.”