Climate change remains one of the pre-eminent challenges of our time. Thankfully, major inter-governmental blocs like the EU have taken important steps towards mandating the reduction of CO2 emissions. In addition, the Paris Agreement (despite the US withdrawal) shows that governments have finally begun to take the global nature of the challenge seriously.
But the private sector must also play a key role in any clean energy transition. In fact, without private sector and civil society support, a global clean energy transition simply won’t be possible.
This makes a recent deal between an award-winning European solar storage company, Ampere Energy, and one of South America’s largest energy companies, Copec, particularly significant for the international clean energy transition.
In particular, it reflects the growing diversification of major traditional energy firms into the renewables sector, a trend that has been driven by the growing market profitability of renewable energy.
Ampere Energy, as a leader in solar storage is on the cutting-edge of solar technology. One of its key claims to fame is having as one of its founders, Vicente López-Ibor Mayor, former Commissioner (Energy Regulatory Commission) and founder-Chairman of Europe’s largest solar energy company, Lightsource, recently part-acquired by BP.
The solution Ampere could bring to South America is one that addresses renewable energy’s main problem: intermittency. Renewable energy by its nature is intermittent, but storage technology in recent years has helped to revolutionise the practical real-world benefits of solar energy.
"In Ampere’s case, it has created award winning solar energy storage batteries using the latest advances in technology to overcome the problem of intermittency"
In Ampere’s case, it has created award winning solar energy storage batteries using the latest advances in technology to overcome the problem of intermittency. These smart batteries store excess energy generated by solar panels during the day so that it can be used 24 hours a day.
Their software is equipped with artificial intelligence and is capable of self-management, predicting solar production, analysing the prices in the electricity market and consumption patterns to achieve maximum savings and energy independence.
A clean energy transition must be driven by technological advances that enable not just the use of renewable energy, but the more intelligent and resourceful use of energy, which a smart storage company is making possible by combining artificial intelligence, automatic learning algorithms, big data analytics and blockchain technology.
But this technology must reach those parts of the world where it can have the greatest benefit, including South America, a continent with ample sunshine.
That’s why the impact of Ampere’s collaboration with Copec could eventually be a game-changer in the region. Much like how the internet transformed the communications world, leapfrogging the need for third-world communities to invest in expensive and cumbersome telecommunications infrastructure, it is technological innovation and private sector collaboration that will help developing world communities leapfrog the need for traditional energy grids, allowing them to instead produce clean energy independently and off-the-grid.
"A clean energy transition must be driven by technological advances that enable not just the use of renewable energy, but the more intelligent and resourceful use of energy"
By combining the expertise of a solar leader like Ampere Energy, and the geographic reach of an energy giant like Copec could bring that change to regions like Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador and Panama among others.
The window of opportunity for action to prevent catastrophic heating is shrinking while the challenge of how to deal with it continues to grow. It cannot be left to one part of society alone; it must be a collaboration of individuals, government, business and NGOs. Despite the criticisms often levelled at the business world, it is clear they are making progress and I hope they will relentlessly continue their fight against climate change.