If energy equals mass times the speed of light squared, at AES Corporation the energy business is multiplied by the speed of innovation squared.
According to executive vice president Andrew Vesey, "innovation is to trust people. If you ask me what I prefer, I prefer small everyday innovations of our people." And that, for Vesey, is where the power of innovation ties.
Examples abound in the company's two decades of operation in Latin America--among them the award-winning Angamos project in Chile, the first hybrid coal plant in the world that uses a bank of batteries. The system eliminates the need for reserves and increases total plant production, and came about as the solution to a gas supply shortage from Argentina in 2008. For this project, AES Gener received the international EEI Annual Edison Award, the highest honor in the electricity industry.
Another example is AES Nejapa in E1 Salvador, a 6 MW plant that can serve up to 12,000 families. The plant generates electricity from methane gas collected at the country's largest landfill. It's a first generation project of AES in E1 Salvador, and the first of its kind in Central America.
In Brazil, AES Eletropaulo distributes electricity to more than 6 million customers in 24 municipalities in the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo. Because the plant provides electricity to low-income communities, where reliable service and affordable energy are critical to improving security and social development, the company established a program to transform consumers into clients- working to improve power supply and also disseminating knowledge on the safe and efficient use of electricity. Since 2004, this program has benefited nearly 2 million people in over 1,100 communities.
Vesey says innovations like solar panels and wind turbines are crucial, but he also sees innovation in daily operations: from formalizing service in Brazilian favelas, to increasing consumer awareness of the importance of paying energy bills to obtain a reliable and safe service, to...