The executive of the Spanish company talks about the consequences of the pandemic in Chile and the world, assuring that, in Chile, the company “is a long-term investor”.
-How do you think Chile’s election processes and the pandemic can affect foreign investment?
Acciona is a long-term investor in Chile, with a 30-year track record and a solid presence in all its areas of activity.
The short-term effects of the pandemic in Chile are very similar to what we are seeing globally, with a slowing of infrastructure projects and a drop in demand for electricity, but which will not jeopardize commitment to the development of infrastructure and services to improve Chileans’ quality of life.
Chile has been a leader in raising awareness about the effects of climate change and was one of the first countries in the world to announce ambitious targets on renewable energy and decarbonization. It has also been a pioneer in tackling new laws to increase the electricity system’s flexibility, promote energy efficiency, electric vehicles and distributed generation, all with the aim of fostering the use of emerging technologies and promoting a high penetration of renewable energy. In addition, there is growing concern about the severe water crisis, which will oblige us to invest in new infrastructure to ensure supply for human consumption, agriculture and industry.
Covid-19 has triggered a global economic and social crisis to which we must respond with both short-term palliative measures and long-term measures. I am confident that, although the short term will bring a certain slowdown, Chile has solid economic fundamentals that will allow it to recover quickly and I have no doubt it will continue adhering to a strategy of a decarbonized economy and resilient and modern infrastructure.
-How is Acciona addressing the current Covid-19 situation?
From the outset, the company made it a priority to take all necessary measures to protect the health and safety of employees.
Without losing sight of this paramount objective, Acciona has made a great planning and management effort to ensure continuity of its activities and services, some of which are essential for life as a community, such as energy supply, hospital management, water supply and waste collection.
In addition to this immediate reaction, the company quickly and responsibly took prudent steps to protect its liquidity, solvency and profitability. The decisions we took to preserve the strength of our balance sheet and accounts included ensuring additional lines of finance to avoid tensions caused by turbulence in the financial sector, reducing dividends by 50% and having an investment grade public credit rating as well as a program of cost reductions and asset rotation.
This set of measures has a twofold objective: first, to address the effects of the pandemic which may deepen and lengthen over time and, secondly, to be prepared to be protagonists of the economic recovery, with a healthy position that allows us to generate investment and growth opportunities.
In the social sphere, we have maintained close ties of collaboration with the local authorities in the regions where we operate so as to provide support on the ground in the fight against the pandemic. As well as donations of food and health supplies, that has included setting up field hospitals in Madrid and Panama and making the electric motorcycles from our motosharing service – which was suspended – available for the delivery and collection of medicines from hospitals.
And, no less importantly, addressing this crisis has taught us lessons that will enable allow us to improve our operations in the future.
-After this unprecedented pandemic, will Acciona continue to be interested in sustainable mobility such as motosharing?
Acciona’s business strategy is linked to sustainable development and the paradigm shift in mobility is a key element. With the gradual integration of renewables and the decarbonization of electricity systems, transport becomes the next great challenge.
Our vision of sustainable mobility through shared electric vehicles brings together three vectors of action: the transformation of cities, the electrification of transport, and efficiency in the use of vehicles.
We have accepted the challenge of defining business models that offer innovative responses to what we see as growing economic and social demand and our electric motorcycle business, which is present in Spain, Portugal and Italy, is a good example of this.
-What opportunities are arising in the renewable energy sector?
Renewable technologies such as wind and photovoltaic energy are already displacing polluting technologies around the world because they have demonstrated their economic and technological efficiency. More than two-thirds of the world population lives in countries where photovoltaic solar and onshore wind power are already the most competitive sources of generation. However, wind and solar generation still accounted for only 8% of total electricity generation globally in 2019. When you add other technologies (hydroelectric, etc.), the share of renewables reaches 26%.
To meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, renewables must account for 86% of the world’s annual electricity generation by 2050. To achieve that, it will be necessary to invest US$110 billion in renewable generation by 2050.
Acciona is the most sustainable electricity company in the world, according to Energy Intelligence, with nearly 10,300 MW of installed renewable capacity and a 30-year track record of investing in and implementing clean energy projects. In 2020, we have over 1 GW of capacity under construction and a portfolio of projects of more than 13,000 MW at different stages of development, mainly in our key geographies (Chile, Mexico, the United States, Australia and Spain).