Non-Profit and Solar Energy in the Andes

From May 15 to May 19, we spent five awesome days in Mendoza. Besides wine and the Andes, what impressed most were two site visits we made in Mendoza – Energizar and Energe.

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(Scenery from the Ranch by the Andes)

The names of the two companies sound similar, but they are very different companies in nature. Energizar is a non-profit organization focusing on promoting renewable energy. It is located in an interesting office building converted from a factory in the suburban area of Mendoza. What impressed us most was that, although its operations are not for profit, they smartly offer engineering training courses to the local people to maintain their daily operations, thus solving the dilemma faced by most NGOs – having a good cause but having no resources to support themselves.

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(Walking to Energizar)

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(The founder was presenting.)

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(Interesting facilities on site)

Energizar also has its own challenges. The founder used to be consumed by the daily chores. He knew that he should have done many things, but he could not because it was hard for him to manage so many things at the same time. The good thing is that he hired a few assistants earlier this year, who share the same passion for renewable energy with him. We are very happy to see the development of the company.

Energe is the leading company in solar energy in Argentina. Its annual sales are about 80 sets of solar equipment displayed in their front yard. Each set is sold for about $1500 US dollars. The company has developed fast since its establishment and it has won numerous awards for leading the solar energy technology in Argentina. We also visited their production sites and were told that they plan to move to another site to expand their operations.

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(Founder was explaining the products to us.)

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(Lots of questions from us)

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(Visiting the production sites. High-quality products.)

Argentina has abundant traditional energy and in the past years it did not see the necessity to utilize solar energy. Since they established the company, they also faced competition from Chinese companies, which are at a disadvantage because they products could not adjust to the drastic temperature change from day to night. However, we are a little suspicious as to how long Energe could maintain this advantage because Chinese companies have very mature solar energy technology, which has been widely used for households in China for many years. As to Alexandra’s hometown, half of the households in the city (about 1.5 million people) installed solar energy equipment similar to the products of Energe about 10 years ago.

All in all, the two site visits are fundamental for our understanding of the renewable energy situation in Mendoza. We are very happy that the school organized these site visits for us so that we can learn so much on this trip.

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