When you receive your electricity bill, you probably don't know where the energy came from, nor do you have the ability to make any decisions about this industry on which you depend every day. Electricity consumers are faced with a sector that is opaque, and their role beyond consumption is entirely passive. "This centralized, oligopolistic, and unidirectional energy system encourages companies to stop innovating," laments young electrical engineer Juan Manuel España.
To promote the energy transition towards green electricity, which is also decentralized and more user-friendly, España has created the Transactive Energy Colombia Initiative. This is a platform for the development of innovative energy business models, where the user also becomes a producer, storer, and manager of green energy. For this initiative, España has been selected by MIT Technology Review in Spanish as one of the winners of Innovators under 35 Latin America 2020.
Thanks to technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT), the Transactive Energy Colombia Initiative turns consumers into prosumers. It also accelerates the integration of the renewable energy produced into the energy mix, which democratizes electricity and promotes sustainable growth.
With this initiative, energy ceases to be the exclusive property of a few energy companies and becomes a system of trade between equals. "We aim to generate income and employment and to make green energy accessible to a larger sector of the population," its creator explains. For this reason, he has focused on neighborhoods affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. In his opinion, "the energy transition must be fair and can be achieved with innovative business models."
España has managed to bring together different actors such as universities, solar energy companies, and impoverished neighborhoods to implement his initiative, with which he hopes to influence the redesign of the electricity market. In Medellín, Colombia, the first pilot project to experiment with peer-to-peer energy in Colombia is already being tested. His initiative focuses on community solutions because more than 50% of potential solar consumers do not have the capacity to install panels on their own homes, the innovator says.
"It's a very interesting and necessary project for this society," says Manuel del Moral Dávila, professor in the Department of Architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico) and member of the Innovators under 35 Latin America 2020 jury. In his opinion, España's profile "and personal effort is extraordinary."