Over recent years, a leftist wave has washed over much of Latin America. From Mexico and Bolivia to Brazil and Colombia, socialist reformers, old and new, have been sworn in with varying political agendas. 

In the realm of renewable energy, the translation of socialist leadership into green energy promotion has been far from clear-cut. 


At one end of the spectrum, Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, elected in 2018, all but kicked out foreign energy companies in 2020, which had poured billions into the country following the country’s energy liberalisation reforms. At the other end, Brazilian and Colombian presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Gustavo Petro have made clear indications of greener policy ambitions after being elected in 2022.

One of the biggest privately-owned renewables companies, Cubico Sustainable Investments, has more than 2GW of renewable energy projects at different stages of development in Latin America, including in Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and Mexico. In January, it bought the 1GW Project Sobral from ZEG Energias Renováveis.

A long-term bet

Francisco Moya Reina, head of Latin America at Cubico Sustainable Investments, tells fDi that the company’s decision to snap up its first solar project in Brazil had nothing to do with Lula’s election.

“Brazil is an important country for the future strategy of Cubico. It has the biggest market among Latin American countries,” he says, stressing that the acquisition and recent divestments were “a strategic decision” to generate value for the company’s shareholders. 

Established in 2015, Cubico is jointly owned by Canadian pension funds the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and PSP Investments. The company had previously divested from its wind assets in Brazil, selling three wind farms to US global energy company AES in 2022. The recent acquisition of Project Sobral is still pending approval from Brazil’s competition regulator.


“We are a long-term investor so we’re going to be here for 30 to 40 years. In the lifetime of the project, we’re going to see different [Brazilian] governments in power,” Mr Reina says.

As he reflects on the region as a whole, he maintains that the macro environment is what investors like Cubico find most challenging. “We've seen common challenges after Covid-19 in most Latin American countries,” he says. “Some of them are down to politics, but I think the main challenge now is inflation.” 

Inflation recently reached a two-decade high of 10% in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, according to the IMF, which forecasts growth in Latin America and the Caribbean to slow to 1.7% in 2023, from 3.5% last year. 

Staying the course

Still, developments are underway in offshore wind in the region. For Cubico, discussions have begun on developing green hydrogen in Chile, Mr Reina says. Elsewhere, transmission grids remain an issue in Colombia while Mexico has become something of an outlier with a clean energy industry in stasis after the government clamped down on the booming renewables sector.

“We’ve seen many players sell in Mexico, while we’ve kept our assets. We’ve still been cautious, of course,” Mr Reina says. As of January 2023, Cubico has roughly 600MW of solar and wind power in Mexico.

Mexico’s president has been on a green-friendly push of late, having issued a $48bn clean power and manufacturing plan for the state of Sonora.

Despite Mexico appearing as something of a risky bet, Mr Reina remains confident that Mexico will “bring new opportunities” and will become an important renewable energy player with the new state investment into green energy. “Our shareholders are supportive of that.”

This article first appeared in the February/March 2023 print edition of fDi Intelligence. View a digital edition of the magazine here.