Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Peru's Sustainable Future

I am in Lima, Peru to participate in an exciting seminar this week.  As is the case in most countries around the world, Peru’s energy ministries are working to take control of their energy future.  With the geopolitical issues, volatile prices, supply constraints, security threats, and imminent threat of climate disruption, we need to make fossil fuels yesterday’s energy source.  And quickly.

How to do so is of course another question – particularly when there is a need for continued economic growth and increased standards of living.  (‘developed’ countries like the US don't need to keep growing the amount of physical through-puts in our economy to improve our quality of life, in fact I think the opposite is true, but there’s still room for such growth in Peru with 20% of the country without access to electricity and 36% living in poverty). 

The folks I’ve met with so far at the Ministerio de Energia y Minas have some great ideas.  They’ve got a vision of moving from an energy mix of 47% crude, 28% renewables (mostly hydro), 21% natural gas, and 4% coal to about one-third each of crude, renewables, and natural gas.  Unlike the US, where we have a lot of low-cost (though very expensive from a systems-view) coal, Peru is looking at greater supply constraints (though they do have some proven reserves of oil and natural gas).

They’ve got some significant solar and wind projects in the works, they are mapping out other possible sources like geothermal, and are really looking for ways to manage the demand side.  They’ve done a lot of public outreach and awareness building and developed many guidelines and informational resources for facilities people in various sectors.

Early last year, a couple of representatives reached out to us at Second Nature with an interest in engaging their higher education sector in this work, recognizing that without these institutions providing tomorrow’s leaders with a comprehensive sustainability perspective, the chances for significant change were very limited.  They attended the 3rd Annual Climate Leadership Summit of the ACUPCC last August in Chicago and heard from college & university presidents, the USGBC, Janine Benyus, Peter Senge, and Bill Clinton about the importance of demand-side reduction, energy efficiency, and new ways of thinking, educating and innovating.  There was also a lot of talk about how to finally bring the ACUPCC concept international.  We had a panel of representatives from the UK, Taiwan, and Malaysia who had already been working on that in various capacities, and a general feeling that it was vitally important to do so.

The Peruvian delegation continued to work on the idea and arranged this meeting for university representatives,  government officials, and others to explore the idea further, and learn about the benefits, opportunities, and strategies for carrying it out.  I’m presenting tomorrow on the current status of the ACUPCC and then again on some of the specific resources available to support the network – like the ACUPCC Reporting System, the Clean Air – Cool Planet Campus Carbon Calculator, the CAP wiki, and ACUPCC guidance documents on leading change, the academic components of climate action planning, carbon offsets, and financing sustainability projects. 

I just met with Director General of Electricity and various other leaders in the Ministry of Energy and Minining, all of whom seemed to be great people, genuinely excited about the prospect of creating a sustainable energy future for Peru, and who saw the importance of higher education’s role in doing so.  This represents a huge leadership opportunity for the country that will be instrumental in building a secure, efficient, prosperous Peru. 

Although, I gotta say the coolest part about the Ministry was the Alpacas “mowing” the lawn under the trees out front – great way to save fuel & fertilizer!!

Stay going.

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