IMTECH to boost the solar energy industry in Peru

 It involves two pilot projects in a school and a hospital in the village of Sibayo, in the Colca Canyon in the Andes mountains. The company will be working alongside various manufacturers of solar energy equipment. Together with them and other manufacturers, the aim is to provide similar solutions for other villages in the same valley in due course. A collaboration agreement has also been reached with San Pablo University in Arequipa, the purpose of which is to develop a prototype for solar energy heating that can be used in homes located in mountainous areas across Peru. This is a relatively under-developed region with a high level of infant mortality and poor healthcare provision. A conference is being organised in conjunction with the university about the use of sustainable energy in the specific circumstances of Peru, in order to bring about a broad-based transfer of knowledge. Students and school pupils will be involved in the project.

Imtech CEO Rene van der Bruggen: ‘Many of the world’s problems – water, energy and the environment – can be solved using green technology. Imtech is one of the strongest technological players in Europe in this area and has extensive and relevant knowledge at its disposal. Imtech is also proactive when it comes to CSR, and it is against that background that we seek to give support with our own employees to boost local communities, organisations and businesses in under developed countries to use green technology, as part of our Corporate Citizenship policy. We have been doing this since 2008. If you provide local people with the right knowledge and technology, they are perfectly capable of finding the most suitable solutions to their own challenges and problems, as a result of which levels of prosperity and the well-being of local communities will improve. Our Spanish employees are specialised in solar energy and will be giving the local solar energy industry in Peru a boost. This Imtech initiative is being provided free of charge. Imtech is working with SharePeople, a Dutch non-governmental organisation. The total investment in this CSR project amounts to around 0.8 million euro.’

Peru: an ideal climate for solar energy

The potential for solar energy is better in Peru than anywhere else. The ‘impact’ of the sun as a possible source of heat for solar energy is measured in W/m2. At 230 W/m2, the figure in Peru is higher than any other location on earth. By comparison, the average for north-west Europe is 150 W/m2, and that of the Sahara is 200 W/m2. In the Colca Canyon in particular, the conditions for solar energy are more or less perfect, thanks to the altitude (more than 4,000 metres) and the presence of the nearby Atacama desert in Chile. Nonetheless, solar energy is used here relatively little, and because of the use of inadequately developed technology, it has only a modest yield. This has direct consequences on levels of prosperity and the quality of life of the tens of thousands of mostly poor people who live here. Temperatures in the daytime exceed 40 degrees Celsius, while at night they fall to below minus 20. Medical facilities are very poorly developed. Because of the severe cold, life expectancy is short, and more than 300 young children dying in the Colca Canyon every year. Imtech is keen to change this through its CSR policies. Following a period of intensive preparations, a team of eight solar energy specialists is being sent to the region from the Spanish division of Imtech.

The sun as a source of heat

In the Colca Canyon, solar energy will be used for heating and for a hot-water facility in a health clinic and a school. The first phase will see the realisation of these facilities in Sibayo, a village high up in the Andes. The local authorities will be involved in this. The solar energy applications will be monitored and optimised for a year via telemetry. The intention then, in the second phase, is that local organisations will provide more public buildings in other villages in the Colca Canyon with similar technology. In this programme, Imtech is working with EcoEnergías and Energia Innovador, two small businesses in Arequipa that specialise in solar energy.

In addition, a collaboration agreement has been reached with the Institute of Energy and the Environment of San Pablo University in Arequipa. This involves the development of a prototype for solar energy-based heating in homes, which can be applied across the high mountainous areas of Peru. Thanks to a special wall/window construction, heat that is captured in the daytime can be used as a source of heat in the evenings. A conference is also being organised with the university on the use of sustainable energy sources, while primarily schools are taking part in a contest that will help promote knowledge about solar energy and green technology. Knowledge transfer, in other words, is an integral part of this project.

Enthusiastic responses

The CSR project has been warmly welcomed in Peru. There has been a great deal of interest in the national press, while the Dutch and Spanish embassies have underlined the importance of the project. Those who are directly involved have also shown much enthusiasm.

Director Marcelo Neira Briceño of Energia Innovador: ‘It is important to find solutions and best practices from abroad in order to solve energy problems in Peru. Specific knowledge possessed by foreign companies is essential, because this knowledge is not available in our own country. I hope that the Imtech technology will work and that vulnerable groups of people high in the mountains – young children and pregnant women – will benefit from it.’

Director Sandro John Guillén Bravo of EcoEnergías: ‘We would like to further improve and refine, and more broadly apply our technical knowledge in this collaboration agreement. This region is characterised by difficult social and climatological conditions. Working in partnership with Imtech, the university and other involved parties will make it possible to improve the position of the solar energy industry in our region.’

Director Juan José Milón Guzmán of the Instituto de Energía y Medio Ambiente of the Catholic University of San Pablo: Imtech is a company with a lot of experience with sustainable energy. We hope that knowledge transfer in the field of solar energy will improve our ability to solve problems. That way, we will be in a position to resolve problems in poor rural communities. I think this is an outstanding initiative, a perfect combination of social responsibility and knowledge transfer, aimed at human and sustainable solidarity.’

Imtech and CSR

With its green technology, Imtech provides solutions to essential social issues relating to energy, the environment, fine particles and water. Imtech technology also contributes towards improving mobility, better healthcare, education, security, the work of research laboratories and research centres, the pharmaceutical industry, the development of clean and safe cars and the food production market. Thirty per cent of its revenue in 2011 (5.1 billion euro) was related to ‘GreenTech’. Additionally, Imtech is proactive in terms of CSR. Its policies in this area are aimed at reducing its carbon footprint, cutting waste flows, chain responsibility with a ‘Sustainable Code of Supply’ and Corporate Citizenship, such as the project in Peru. Another example, from 2009/2010, saw Imtech improving water and wastewater facilities in the Gert Sibande district of South Africa, for which it also drew up a maintenance plan and set up a digital monitoring instrument.