As a coastal city, Cartagena is utmost vulnerable to climate change, therefore the city came up with a genius plan; nevertheless, in the meantime, individuals and companies deliver their share.
I meet Richard and his colleague in a coffee bar in the folkloristic part of the city. Both men just returned of their day at the office, a ride through the congested evening traffic to top it off.
Save Energy – Save the World
‘If everyone would do the same job as us, the world would be saved,’ says Richard laughing. Richard and his company are working in energy efficiency. As a small consultancy company, they help big energy consumers to reduce their energy use and hence their carbon footprint. Mainly his clients are big industrial players or hotels, perfect suited for the city of Cartagena where both are the key businesses.
They claim to be able to save to save 40 to 90% of the initial energy use of their client, and this within 3 years, by using a variety of techniques, preferably combined.
And after three years? They provide maintenance of the installed infrastructure, hence addressing a common problem that comes along with the implementation of new techniques. If one doesn’t know how to deal with the infrastructure in terms of maintenance and operation, the infrastructure might be installed, but not working at its full capacity, and hence being a useless investment.
I have seen this phenomenon frequently in other countries where renewable energy techniques were implemented but were not used after a while, because when they got broken, nobody in the community knew how to fix it or even during the stage of life, nobody knew how to use it.
It is nice if someone gives you a plane for example, but if you do not know how to fly it, nor someone else to fly it; it is just that, a nice gift, but useless.
Another disputable aspect of the widely implementation of an innovative technique in a region that lacks the knowledge or the basic market, is the provision of materials. In the case of Richard and his company, but certainly not only in his case, most of the used materials have to be imported.
This is a globally interested aspect of the energy transition: lots of material and infrastructure are not produced in the countries where they will be installed. China for example, might be the biggest manufacturer and exporter of solar photovoltaic panels. This might rise questions on the sustainability of that side of the energy transition as well.
Small Steps – Huge Leap
Despite the above-mentioned challenges, and the lack of an overall framework in which his company can operate; Richard’s company continues helping to save energy of big energy users, and as a result, save the planet a little bit on a daily basis, with hopefully a huge result in the future. Moreover, if lots of companies would do the same, as in Medellin.