Virtual Seminar: Protecting Renewable Energies: Investment Treaties and State Regulation of Solar, Wind and Water Energy

Driven by government schemes and the expectation of high returns on investment, renewable energies are clearly on the rise.  Recent studies indicate that wind and solar energies have doubled their share of global electricity generation since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.  For the first time, during the first half of 2020, renewables exceeded fossil fuel generation in the European Union.

At the same time, changes in, and withdrawal of, government schemes for renewables have led to an increase in investment disputes.  Foreign investors have already brought dozens of international arbitrations against States such as Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.  So far, these arbitrations have yielded inconsistent results, even in relation to apparently similar situations.  Recent or imminent regulatory changes may give rise to numerous additional investment treaty disputes, including in Mexico, Ukraine and other countries.

The advantages of renewable energies are widely accepted.  Renewables can have a positive effect on the environment, drive economic growth, create new jobs and enhance human health and welfare.  However, the development of a strong renewable energy industry requires substantial initial capital investment that can often be secured only through a stable and predictable legal framework.  An appropriate balance therefore needs to be found to protect both foreign investors’ legitimate expectations and States’ sovereign right to regulate the renewable energy industry in light of changing circumstances.

The speakers discussed these and other interesting issues regarding renewable energies and investment treaty claims.  The speakers for the seminar were:

Álvaro Nistal, Counsel at Volterra Fietta, who will provide a number of introductory remarks and moderate the seminar.  A civil and common law lawyer, Mr Nistal advises States, international organisations and private entities on a wide range of public international law matters.  He regularly represents States and foreign investors in major investment treaty arbitrations.  He also represents and provides States in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia with advice on proceedings before the International Court of Justice.

Gauri Singh, Deputy Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (“IRENA”), who will discuss the challenges that States and international organisations face in the development of renewable energies as well as her experience concerning renewables in India.  Ms Singh brings more than 30 years of experience in policy, advocacy and project implementation within the field of renewable energy and sustainable development.  Prior to joining IRENA, Ms Singh worked within India’s government.  Among other important tasks, Ms Singh was responsible for leading the development of the National Solar Mission of India policy in 2010, an early policy framework designed to drive solar power development across the country.

Peter Kayode Oniemola, a lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) and the Energy Law Programme Coordinator at the Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law of the same university.  Dr Oniemola will discuss the types of national legal frameworks required to promote renewable energies and the challenges that renewable energy companies and States face in Africa.  Dr Oniemola is currently a member of the legal team representing the Federal Government of Nigeria in an investor-State arbitration.  He regularly consults on energy law and climate change and has participated in multiple legislative initiatives regarding Nigeria’s energy industry.  He also has published extensively on energy law with Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Thomson Reuters, Hart Publishing and other leading publications.

Casiopea Ramírez, Managing Partner at Fresh Energy Consulting, who will discuss the conditions required for renewable energies to thrive as well as the challenges that renewable energy companies face in Mexico and other Latin-American countries.  Ms Ramírez is an expert on renewable energy and climate change with 16 years of experience in the electricity industry.  Ms Ramírez has participated in numerous State and private projects designed to promote renewable energies.  She has held management positions in multiple leading renewable energy companies operating in Mexico and Central America.  Ms Ramírez also has acted as an expert witness in arbitrations concerning the electricity industry and is currently participating as a regulatory expert in the assessment of potential arbitration claims in Mexico.

Ricardo Gerhard, an Associate at Volterra Fietta, who will explain how investment treaties can help foreign investors hedge against regulatory risks in Mexico’s renewable energy market in the face of recent measures that specifically target wind and solar investments.  Mr Gerhard advises sovereign States, international organisations and private entities on a broad spectrum of public international law matters.  He has significant experience advising States and multinational companies on complex issues of international investment law and has participated in numerous international arbitrations under the ICSID, ICC and UNCITRAL rules.

Gunjan Sharma, Senior Associate at Volterra Fietta, who will address the practical lessons learned for investors and States from prior investment treaty arbitrations in the renewables industry.  Mr Sharma routinely advises energy companies on complex issues of international law and investment risk.  Mr Sharma has represented States before the International Court of Justice, represented investors and States in investor-State arbitrations and been counsel to clients before numerous US courts.  In addition to his significant litigation experience, Mr Sharma has advised clients on dispute resolution, indemnification clauses, stabilisation clauses, investment risk mitigation and sovereign immunity issues in over 300 commercial transactions.

For any queries regarding the content of the seminar, please email