August 27, 2020

Academic session conducted by engineer Jorge Lapeña with comments by Dr. Alieto Guadagni

By María Florencia Avena, Volunteer for the Communications Division
Translated by Isabella Rocco

The presentation of a long-term Comprehensive Plan, developed by the Argentine Energy Institute (IAE) General Mosconi, was the reason for a new virtual academic session organized by the Committee for Environmental Studies and Human Development, on August 27. The meeting was carried out by Engineer Jorge Lapeña, president of the IAE since 1985, and was attended by Dr. Alieto Guadagni, former Secretary of State and Minister of the province of Buenos Aires.

The meeting revolved around a document that proposes sixty public policies designed for the next thirty years, and its holistic character is assessed as a "serious situation within the sector" today. Lapeña characterized the Argentine system, and as a first statement, he argued that the problems were structural and have remained unresolved for four lustrums. "The energy economy is destroyed," he said, in reference to non-compliance with the main four laws that regulate the market. In addition, he noted that electricity companies are on the brink of default, and consumers are ordered to pay derisory prices, which are not even transparent in the eyes of the global market.

In this context, the lecturer raised that Argentina is facing the dilemma of following the same path or opting for a sustainable solution, which is where the world is heading today. Lapeña argued for the need to change strategies, tax and legislative frameworks, and above all, the attitude of the political class towards the problems that affect society. The work is inspired by the guiding concept of the Transition of the energy sector, which serves five different fronts:

  • First, according to the document, Argentina should take a position and be an active member to mitigate climate change. This would generate a conflict of interest because it requires the Energy Transition from a primarily carbonous, strong greenhouse gas-producing matrix to an emissions-neutral matrix, that is, sustainable.
  • Second, a Transition in Productivity would be needed. Energy production in the country (hydrocarbons, electricity, nuclear power, etc.) has high costs and low productivity, therefore, it cannot compete if there is no jump, first stimulating the domestic market.
  • Third, a Transition in prices and tariffs is considered essential for industry, agriculture, transport and trade to increase competitiveness, on the one hand. On the other hand, consumers can also improve their family economies.
  • Fourth, a Transition to Energy Rationality and ultimately to a better national state, as "unfounded decisions have been made throughout history, such as the purchase of nuclear power plants without feasibility studies or coal-free coal plants," Lapeña said.
  • And finally, a Moral Transition "from a transgressive state of certain laws to an efficient one with a high degree of public legitimacy".


Guadagni added onto the Energy Transition that it is imperative to adopt a sustainable matrix that does not emit carbon dioxide, and to tax, rather than subsidize, fossil energies. In this way, they would increase tax resources by taxing industries that harm the environment, rather than taxing production or work, according to the former ambassador. He also stated that the construction industry and automotive industry are the ones that produce the most greenhouse gases. "Green labeling is the first step, but regulation is mainly needed," the former minister said, warning that there is a "serious political problem." In that regard, he wondered who established the regulatory rules that mean transforming existing production techniques.

He also argued that Argentina should draw inspiration from core energy decisions, such as the creation of the Atucha 1 nuclear power plant, but not on temporary or cutting edge projects such as Vaca Muerta gas exports, "which do not end up being profitable because of the transportation". In this regard, Guadagni suggested the transformation of fossil energy consumption from oil to gas, which would imply a drastic increase in domestic consumption and the release of exportable oil balances.

As for the electricity sector, Guadagni noted that in the last nineteen years, the fossil generation matrix increased by 85%, while the clean energy matrix increased by 29%. He clarified that while progress was being made, the percentage could be higher if the hydro sector were boosted.