Renewables Have a Future

Renewables Have a Future. Ricardo Ampudia Interview

Ricardo Ampudia attends the World Wind Energy Conference being held these days in Bonn. He spoke to DW as President of a renewable energy company established in Latin America. Ampudia is President of Amtek, a company that was born in Mexico 35 years ago.

Currently working with energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy quality in several countries, applied to all industries, universities and schools, trying to develop new research projects and technology. In conversation with DW, Ricardo Ampudia talked about his vision of renewable energy in Latin America.

DW: Are Latin American governments aware that fossil resources are exhausted? Ricardo Ampudia: Yes, many countries are aware, others have no idea and others believe that they will be exhausted. There are Latin American countries that import oil, gasoline, because they do not have those resources. So, for them, it will be easier to invest in renewable resources such as solar, etc

DW: How Latin American governments are receptive to renewable energy? Ricardo Ampudia: We suffered a blockade by governments because of the global economic problem. Renewable energy is beginning to get strength, is increasingly popular, but we have to keep struggling with financial resources for projects.

DW: And with the laws of different countries as well? Ricardo Ampudia: There are Latin American countries that support renewable energy. Others have political and social conflicts that we have to fight. There are communities where there is an intention to enter renewable programs, but the government is not interested because another party governs that region. Often financial resources from abroad are available but they are politically incorrect because the governments lose image. We must break paradigms in different aspects in order to proceed with these programs.

DW: Do you have to accommodate loopholes because no explicit laws protect all your activities? Ricardo Ampudia: That is right. Legally you are successful in some cases, in others it takes many years to succeed.

DW: People are receptive to the transition from fossil fuels to renewable applications?
Ricardo Ampudia: It is clear that in some countries there is still lack of education, so people should understand the benefits of this type of energy and not keep arguing, for example, that wind turbines are noisy and polluting. If people understand what is the goal and participate in the project, the renewables acceptance would be easier.

DW: It is also said that wind energy is expensive, aesthetically not beautiful
Ricardo Ampudia: Indeed, large wind turbines are not pretty and there is much controversy about it. Equally important, if people participate in windmill farms, the interest is different contrary to be something imposed, and then people are part of the group. In the end, the people themselves want to invest in order to get the energy project.

DW: With regards to small programs, some multinationals have already landed in Latin America and do business with the resources there. This is “overboard”, because Latin America has a long history of energy exploitation, how do you see this?
Ricardo Ampudia: There is a large problem. Actually, these companies do not involve the community and exploit it. The objective of the multinationals is their businesses. Buy land no matter who is there or who pollutes visually in the case of the turbines. Yes, there is exploitation of territories.

DW: In that sense, there may be people’s distrust. Some governments have sometimes such laws as multinationals and that creates a problem.
Ricardo Ampudia: The trick is to find a common point of collaboration that suits both parties, because ultimately it is an investment, there is a product or outcome as a business, but the two parties have to agree and benefit both. If not, there will always be a difference, battle, fight, etc, etc.

DW: Small to medium businesses like yours what role the triangle formed by people-governments-multinationals?
Ricardo Ampudia: We are an important part because the big companies can not afford or do not have the dynamism and ability to interact with communities. They have their structure, different way to work, they find it a bit difficult to be flexible. Small and medium companies are more dynamic, move under different structure, have a different mindset, and adapt to what the community is concerned. At the end of the day, we are the generation of 80% of the world economy.

DW: So, these businesses have a future in this expansive panorama of renewable energy in Latin America?
Ricardo Ampudia: They have a great future in Latin America and beyond. As far as technology is concerned, you can also research and have a strategy plan with other countries.

DW: Exactly what do you expect to find in the World Wind Energy Conference held in Bonn?
Ricardo Ampudia: The controversial discussion about renewable energy-in this case-wind energy, what new plans are, how they have developed in communities, how are entering new markets, new technologies do exist and what competitive advantages we have with the help of governments, the private sector and our clients, which are communities, municipalities, countries, etc

DW: The theme of the Eleventh World Wind Energy Conference sounds almost revolutionary: “collective power-citizen power”
Ricardo Ampudia: It sounds revolutionary, but it’s reality, because we are still in a stage of birth of all this technology. We have much to do, much to learn in the global community, but the potential is great, because the natural resource we have, like the sun, is there and we can take advantage. The air also. If we put both together with hydropower, can do wonders

Author: Mary Santacecilia
Editor Cristina Papaleo

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