Accelerating the future of energy in the US

Nov. 17, 2020

In the US, renewables are on track to be the fastest growing source of electricity generation as states, communities and organizations of all types make commitments and plans to reduce their carbon footprints.

We share our customers’ commitments to a more sustainable energy future. Today’s announcement to merge sPower with AES’ clean energy development business in the US will help us to empower our customers’ energy transitions. Both AES and sPower are recognized leaders when it comes to renewables in the US. Together, we’ll be one of the top renewables growth platforms in the US.

We will be even better together

The merged business will manage the 2.5 gigawatts (GW) of operating assets and the existing  2.6 GW contracted backlog, and has 12 GW of development projects. The value we’ll create with our customers goes beyond these numbers. Our combined team of approximately 500 people bring experience, expertise and passion to solving our customers’ toughest energy challenges. We’re also actively building our team and adding jobs for qualified professions who share our vision of accelerating a 100% carbon-free energy grid. You can learn more at www.aesrenewablejobs.com.

Achieving a higher standard of clean energy 

We recognize there are many ways customers can work towards being powered by 100% renewables. Together with sPower, we’ll be able to offer our customers in the US a broader range of innovative solutions based on cutting-edge technologies. Our solutions will empower our customers’ energy transitions while making a carbon-free future possible. We’re already helping customers achieve a higher standard of clean energy.

Microsoft partnered with sPower for 300 MW of solar energy to further their journey to be carbon negative by 2030. Pleinmont Solar I and II are part of the 485 MW Spotsylvania Solar Energy Center in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Pleinmont Solar I and II will produce approximately 715,000 MWh of solar energy each year, offsetting more than 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

When the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) needed to make solar work after dark, they selected AES and we made history together. The award-winning solar + storage solution we co-created offered a new model for delivering large-scale renewable energy and is helping the state meet its commitment to be 100% powered by renewables by 2045.

We’re ready to help more customers like Microsoft and KIUC by providing the greener, smarter energy solutions they need as they pursue their business objectives and climate commitments.

Together, we’ll continue to accelerate the future of energy.

Andrés Gluski
AES President and CEO

Introducing the new AES: Four ways we’re partnering with customers to transform clean energy into a business advantage

October 27, 2020

The new AES shows who we are and where we’re going next to improve lives by accelerating the future of energy, together. AES has been leading the transformation in the energy sector with our focus on innovation, local investment in our communities and working with our customers to create a carbon-free energy future for everyone. We’ve set ourselves apart through our actions and felt it was an important moment in time to reflect that in our brand.  

We’re committed to a smarter, greener energy future and to helping customers of every kind, wherever they are in their energy journey. We focused our four offerings on the outcomes our customers want to see. 

Achieve a higher standard of clean energy 

There are many paths customers can take toward 100% renewables. AES is one of the largest renewable solution providers and developers, bringing 2-3 GW in new wind, solar, hydropower and energy storage online every year. We introduced energy storage as a solution to usher in a new era of firm renewables, and through Fluence, our joint venture with Siemens, we built the world’s leading platform. In Hawaii, we’re working with Kauai Island Utility Cooperative to provide energy from a solar + storage solution that will help the state meet its commitment to be 100% powered by renewables by 2045. In Chile, we’re working together to power our communities with more renewable energy by combining 50 MWh of energy storage with our Alto Maipo hydropower plant to create a first-of-its-kind virtual reservoir. 

Drive impact through access and insights 

A big piece of the clean energy equation for many of our customers is the effective use of data, artificial intelligence and other smart technologies to increase reliability and efficiency while reducing carbon emissions and lowering operational costs. We’re leveraging digital technology to expedite the shift to renewables and the deployment of new energy solutions.

Secure your sustainable future 

We’re diversifying the energy matrix in countries that rely on conventional generation with cleaner energy, including Panama, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. Since introducing natural gas in the Dominican Republic 20 years ago, we’ve saved customers more than half a billion dollars a year and avoided approximately four million tons of CO2 emissions annually. To accelerate this transformation, we came together with Energas through a new joint venture, EnaDom. Together, we’ve developed infrastructure solutions like the Eastern Gas Pipeline and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to bring LNG to other regions in the country. What’s more, we’re bringing the benefits of natural gas to neighboring countries by transforming the Dominican Republic into the main energy distribution center in the Caribbean. By 2022, we expect the Dominican Republic to operate on 70% natural gas.  

Gain scale benefits through shared platforms and applications 

When it comes to making the greatest impact to improving lives, we’re better together. Our recent partnership with 5B will accelerate the broad adoption of solar energy by enabling customers to add solar resources at a pace that is three times faster while providing up to two times more energy within the same footprint of traditional solar facilities. We’re already bringing 5B’s innovative solution to Panama and Chile this year. Together with Uplight, we’re transforming how utilities engage with customers by deploying industry-leading digital applications and engagement platforms.  

It’s now easier than ever for organizations to accelerates their clean energy journey, make meaningful contributions toward a sustainable climate future and build competitive advantages in their industries. With the launch of the new AES, I’m excited to work together with our many stakeholders to continue transforming and accelerating the clean energy future our world deserves and needs.  

Andrés Gluski
AES President and CEO

The AES Heroes: Emerging from the Crisis as a Better Company

May 13, 2020

These are difficult times. We at AES are a purpose-driven organization that aims to improve lives, and we have learned that through the current challenges imposed by COVID-19 we have found our sense of unity. Together, we will emerge a better company because of it.

Energy is at the core of human development. The availability, affordability, and environmental impacts of energy production and supply affect the life expectancy, education levels and per capita income of a country. All three of these are key elements in measuring the progress of a community towards a just and egalitarian society.

AES plays a big role in that by operating a portfolio of energy generation assets with diversified technologies, utilities with energy transmission and distribution assets, and as a leading player in new technologies such as energy storage and digital solutions, in the many countries in which we operate.

Our mission has always been based on improving lives, and we are proud to be leading the energy transition. The covid-19 crisis has tested our resilience and our values to their core. Under extreme circumstances, our teams were called upon to continue to provide the services that society needs to keep functioning.

What emerged were the AES Heroes. Our AES Heroes are people who are going above and beyond to help their communities stay safe and preserve their lives to the extent possible, people that are responsible to keep the lights on in our homes, people that decided to do this by making their own personal sacrifices.

In Chile, we are helping with the sanitation of the streets of Puchuncavi, Horcon and La Chocota,next to the Municipality in Antofagasta to slow the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to generate electricity and provide about one third of the energy the country needs.

In El Salvador, while we operate transmission and distribution assets bringing electricity to 1.4 million clients, we delivered new electrical infrastructure that repowered the energy service at the Zacamil Hospital, one of the most important health centers treating COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.

In the United States, our Indiana and Ohio utility teams worked tirelessly 24 hours of the day, seven days a week to restore electricity to all our customers after a strong storm and tornado hit the region.

We could not be prouder of the work that our people continue to perform around the world, their sense of purpose as they perform these critical services is inspiring to all of us.

This crisis has reinforced the strong elements of our culture, especially around our people being proud to work together bring good to society. It has strengthened our bond as a team, with relationships getting more meaningful even for those working virtually, and our pride of working for AES has increased as we manage through the crisis to provide basic service to our communities.

We believe the world should return to a “new normal” life, where we will again be able to enjoy social gatherings, again work out of the office environments we cherish, be face to face with all of our teams, and be in the company of those we love. Meanwhile, we at AES still have a lot of work to do to keep the lights on.

Life should return to a level of normalcy, but the lessons we learned during this crisis will be with us forever. The feeling of camaraderie, of being part of team and of doing good in the world will remain with us. The memories of how we were able to manage through this together will have changed us all. This heightened sense of purpose and of belonging should make us a better company and a better team in the future, and we are here to power other companies around the world to do the same.

To learn more about AES and our journey visit www.aes.com.

The AES Corporation is a global power company managing $30 billion of assets in 14 countries. Bernerd Da Santos is its Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Leonardo Moreno is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Chief Commercial Officer, and Tish Mendoza the Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Business Services and Chief Human Resources Officer.

AES Makes New Commitment to Reduce Our Generation from Coal to Less Than 30% by the End of 2020 and Under 10% by 2030

February 28, 2020

By Andrés Gluski, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The future of energy depends on a responsible transition to renewables. For us, that means not only working with our customers to become one of the largest renewables solutions providers and developers in the world but also moving away from more traditional facilities. Today, we’ve accelerated this action with new goals: reduce our generation from coal to under 30% by the end of 2020 and less than 10% by 2030.

These numbers represent a significant increase over our 2018 commitment, which was made in conjunction with the release of a climate scenario report in accordance with the Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. We understand that climate change creates financial risk for businesses, and TCFD created a way for us to speak about the issue in terms of economics — not just grams of carbon.

This context is ever important considering the move to a low-carbon economy is estimated to require a $1 trillion in investment each year. Before companies invest, they need to know where their businesses stand financially in the face of climate change. Shareholders want to know what’s being done to mitigate risk — both environmentally and to the bottom line. We’re also seeing this play out across industries as firms like BlackRock pledge sustainability as a “new standard for investing.”

Under 30% generation from coal this year and less than 10% in less than 10 years

We are increasing our target thanks to the tremendous progress we’ve already made in our transition to a greener future. In 2019 alone, we signed long-term PPAs for 2.8 GW of renewables. We’re on track to nearly triple our renewable portfolio to 22 GW by the end of 2024 versus 2016.

Our shifting portfolio includes pioneering solutions such as the “green blend and extend offering,” which systematically replaces coal generation with lower cost renewable energy and accelerates access to low-cost solar and wind for existing customers, while maintaining the reliability offered by the thermal assets.

Digital technology will also help expedite our shift to renewables, facilitate energy efficiency gains and underpin the deployment new energy solutions. Our strategic alliance with Google to use its Cloud technology is another example of AES’ innovation along with that of our digital applications partner Uplight.

The alliance builds on a previous agreement between Google and AES to provide long-term renewable power to Google’s data center in Chile. AES will collaborate with Google Cloud on energy management and opportunities to sponsor clean energy projects in a range of targeted markets in the US and Latin America that have the potential to help Google meet its clean energy objectives.

Batteries are a positive part of the equation

In the area of energy storage, our launch of Fluence in 2018 brought digital intelligence and control to operators around the world. The world leader in energy storage, Fluence has already deployed or been awarded more than 1.6 GW of energy storage projects in 21 countries.

We’re ushering in an era of firm renewables with award-winning projects like the Lāwa’i Solar and Energy Storage Project — the world’s largest operational solar-plus-storage system. Combining solar power with battery-based energy storage enables intermittent renewable generation to be converted into safe, reliable and higher-quality power. The Lāwa’i project, which was recognized with our industry’s top honor – the Edison Electric Institute’s 2019 Edison Award, is making Kaua’i more than 50 percent powered by renewables and forging the path for Hawaii to manage a cleaner energy mix.

Our first of its kind energy storage project in Chile captures hydropower without constructing a physical dam or using a water reservoir. AES Gener is creating a 10 MW “virtual reservoir” at its run-of-river Alfalfal hydroelectric plant near Santiago. Rather than traditional energy from pumped storage, grid-scale lithium-ion batteries allow the facility to generate electricity and to store it for later use without the physical infrastructure. This project can be scaled up to 250 MW of five hour energy storage.

The future of energy

As we protect the planet and secure our company’s financial future, our shareholders’ expectations of full sustainability increase, and our customers look for more meaningful ways to grow their businesses through green energy. We believe it’s our responsibility to continue to create energy solutions that fully address our customers’ needs for affordable and reliable low-carbon energy. Together, can we accelerate the future of energy.

Andrés Gluski

AES President and CEO

The Sun Doesn’t Have to Shine all the Time to Provide Power

February 26, 2019

Solar power after sunset is not only possible, it’s essential to a clean-energy future. The combination of solar + storage increases grid stability, enhances distribution networks and helps bring power to remote places. Batteries charge by day when sunshine is abundant and release energy when people need it most, including peak hours after dark when solar panels are no longer producing power.

Essentially, energy storage aligns renewable production with peak demand. Solar + storage provides flexible capacity by both absorbing over-generation midday and discharging it during the evening hours.  Releasing solar when it has traditionally been unavailable will provide continuous access to a cleaner, more reliable energy mix.

Integrating solar power with battery-based storage also increases solar power’s value. It forms what we call, “firm renewables.” That is, the combination creates predictable blocks of renewable energy that can be bid into the energy market just as traditional methods of generation are.

The need to store energy has never been more critical. This conviction is evident in three recent groundbreaking projects AES has launched with partners in the U.S. and Asia.

Expanding battery-storage in the  U.S.

We’re harnessing the abundant Arizona sunshine to provide critical summer peaking capacity with Arizona Public Service (APS). As Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electric company, APS is charting the course to a clean-energy future in this state. Energy affordability and reliability for its customers are the utilities’ top priorities.

APS started meeting these goals and addressing changing energy needs already through a previous 50-MW battery storage project. APS’s battery storage projects add up to more than what the entire U.S. electricity industry installed in 2018, and it’s continuing to grow its position. Now, AES is partnering with APS to deliver a 100 megawatt (MW) 4-hour duration system battery-based energy storage system.

This will help serve the state’s expanding population of citizens who are increasingly seeking clean energy options. In addition to peaking capacity, the project, owned and operated by AES, will offer operational flexibility, resulting in the most efficient use of renewable energy. As a result, costs and emissions will be lowered and reliability improved. 

The largest solar + storage project in the world

We’re helping Hawaii become 100% renewable. In partnership with Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), we launched the Lāwa’i Solar and Energy Storage Project located on Kauaʻi’s south shore. It’s the largest operational solar + storage project in the world.

The Kaua’i project is also the world’s first solar powered peaking plant and supports three critical renewable power distribution scenarios.

  • It allows for solar generation to supply the grid while charging the battery system.
  • It dispatches power stored in the battery system to the grid during peak demand periods.
  • It can dispatch solar and battery power simultaneously to answer spikes in demand in addition to supporting the grid through provision of ancillary services.

The project consists of 28 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) and a 100 MWh five-hour duration energy storage system. It provides peak capacity from the sun and allows the island to power itself with clean, renewable energy more than half of the time at a fraction of the previous cost.

AES is currently constructing an additional 19.3 MW solar + 70 MWh battery energy storage facility for KIUC located on leased land from the U.S. Department of Defense within the Pacific Missile Range Facility – Barking Sands (PMRF) Naval Base. We were also recently selected by the Hawaiian Electric Companies for two of its seven solar-plus-storage projects in Hawai’i, representing the largest addition of renewable energy in the state’s history.

The first grid-scale battery-based energy storage solution in Asia

We see the potential for energy storage to revolutionize the grid in India and help the country fulfill its vision for 225 GW of renewables by 2022. Together with Mitsubishi, we launched the 10 MW / 10 MWh Delhi Battery-based Energy Storage System (BESS) for Tata Power-DDL. It’s the first grid-scale battery-based energy storage solution in India and largest in South Asia. Clean, unbreakable energy will boost efficiency, resiliency and reliability for more than 2 million customers in the Delhi region.

Energy storage can also greatly impact India’s commercial and industrial sectors by powering can’t-fail manufacturing operations and enabling better onsite generation. In remote areas of India that lack access to electricity today, energy storage can be paired with renewable generation to extend safe, affordable power to these communities.

Transmission and distribution network operators can also use energy storage to manage the variability of solar and wind resources and reduce congestion on the region’s transmission system.

Solar + storage costs less all around

We’ve reached a point when energy storage is a more cost-effective alternative to traditional single-use infrastructure, and it is more environmentally friendly. It offers flexible capacity to meet peak demand, firm renewable generation and is a transmission asset. 

The various uses and range of geographic locations mentioned here demonstrate the ability for solar + storage to have a positive global impact. AES will continue to partner with leading companies on technological innovation that can help us deliver on today’s changing energy needs.

Andrés Gluski

AES President and CEO

The New Solar + Storage Energy Project That Will Help Hawaii Become 100% Renewable

January 8, 2019

Andrés Gluski, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

By 2045, the state of Hawaii intends to utilize 100% renewable energy. Today, it’s one step closer to that goal. Together with Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) we inaugurated the largest operational solar + storage project in the world — the Lāwa’i Solar and Energy Storage Project located on Kauaʻi’s south shore. One of the world’s first solar powered peaking plants, it began providing evening and morning renewable capacity from the sun to the grid in December 2018.

On its way to 100% renewables, Kaua’i has adopted one of the most admirable mandates of any municipality in the world — stipulating that 70% of energy be supplied by renewable sources by 2030. This promising goal will eliminate Kaua’i’s need for oil to run its peaker plants, a dependence that has strained the economy. Because fossil fuels must be shipped onto the island, Kaua’i faces some of the nation’s highest electricity prices.

All-told, the new system will help Kaua’i top 60% renewables in the next five years. In the process, it will remove the annual cost and environmental impact of 3.5 million gallons of oil. The plant also avoids fossil fuels and herbicides used in traditional maintenance with 300 sheep on site to manage vegetation in an environmentally-friendly way.

Three Vital Power Distribution Scenarios

The Kaua’i project supports three vital scenarios in power distribution.

  1. It allows for solar generation to supply the grid while charging the battery system.
  2. It dispatches power stored in the battery system to the grid during peak demand periods.
  3. It can dispatch solar and battery power simultaneously to answer spikes in demand in addition to supporting the grid through provision of ancillary services.

While many other systems coexist but are not tied together, this project fully integrates all the components into one system.

Consisting of 28 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) and a 100 MWh five-hour duration energy storage system, the project provides peak capacity from the sun and allows the island to power itself with clean, renewable energy more than half of the time at a fraction of the previous cost.

A New Model for Renewable Energy

In combining solar power with battery-based energy storage, we can harness a renewable and intermittent source of generation and convert it into safe, reliable and higher-quality power. This establishes a new model for renewable energy that we refer to as firm renewables.

Kaua’i plans additional PV peaker plants throughout the island as part of its overall renewables strategy. AES has been a power supplier to Hawaii for more than 25 years, and we expect this solution to serve other solar-saturated markets where it’s beneficial to time-shift most of the energy generated. Instead of simply augmenting traditional generation, solar + storage can sequentially replace it altogether.

With higher penetration of renewables in global power markets, we’ll soon see conditions like Hawaii in many other parts of the world  including remote grids in Baja, CA, systems in Alaska, and mining applications in the deserts of Chile. Declining costs of solar and use cases of projects such as this one will make similar systems the smartest choice to leverage abundant energy from renewables, and you can expect AES to announce more projects later this year.

Andrés Gluski

AES President and CEO

How AES is closing the gender gap in the energy sector

December 14, 2018

By Andrés Gluski, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The energy sector has traditionally been male-dominated. The women who did choose to work in power or utilities often faced obstacles preventing them from reaching their highest potential. A lack of female leadership at the highest levels also contributed to the sector being one of the least gender-diverse. We’re intent on closing this gap, and believe the future depends on it.

The 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report shows that women make up 34 percent of the electric power generation and fuels workforce. The agency includes fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables within this category, as well as related facility construction, generation equipment manufacturing, and wholesale parts distribution. By mid-century, these jobs will have increased four-fold and women will be needed to fill them.

A gender-diverse future is a greener future.

The report indicates progress in the area of renewables like solar and wind where women, despite the growing fields, are already more than one-third of the employees. Female entrepreneurship in green companies is on the rise. Overall, renewables are catalysts for job creation, industry development and energy access.

Digitalization and automation are also opening up greater prospects for female engineers, analysts and data scientists. Early education, in STEM for instance, and training programs are vital to filling these roles and making a difference for women in the energy sector. Workforce flexibility, mentorship, training, parenting support, fair and transparent processes, equal pay initiatives and diversity targets are also necessary to make progress quickly.

On a more fundamental level, energy access is imperative for increasing women’s participation in the industry. With nearly every aspect of society build on electricity, access to it provides entry into healthcare, education, and technology. It also reduces workload burdens associated with managing a home.

Renewables help close the gap by enabling electrification through microgrids, for example. Infrastructure projects provide employment to local communities, and partnerships with the private sector are key in promoting gender equality and inclusion through social programs.

Closing the gender gap

AES has already committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 70 percent from 2016 levels by 2030. Along with our shifting portfolio, we believe diversity and inclusion are essential to living up to our mission of improving lives by accelerating a safer and greener energy future.

We’ve created new programs that enhance the integration of gender equality into our policies with the ultimate goal of hastening adoption, enhancing sustainability and maximizing outcomes. Specifically, we’ve committed to increasing representation of women in leadership at AES to 25 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2022.

Tracking percentages of promotions and development rotations, we report results to our board of directors and purposefully provide female talent growth opportunities. We have set policies to create gender-diverse candidate pools and strive for a 50/50 balance of new hires in new positions. This includes our new “Energy4Talent” program to recruit and cultivate the next-generation of leaders directly from college. We’re also ensuring appropriate pay ratios and rewards.

Women make up nearly half of the world’s population. Only with their full inclusion will we have the capabilities, knowledge, and skills for a successful organization and sustainable world. The programs mentioned here are just the beginning for AES, and I’ll continue to provide updates on our efforts as they develop.

Andrés Gluski

AES President and CEO

How We’re Accelerating the Cleaner Energy Future while Capitalizing on the Low-Carbon Economy

November 15, 2018

U.S. electricity consumption alone is predicted to increase by 40 percent by 2050, according to National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Meeting these needs and the “electrification of everything” around the world will require a transformation of the fuel mix and deployment of new technologies that provide clean, affordable electricity. By expanding and accelerating access to new forms of power, AES is strengthening its portfolio, making it more resilient and climate-transition ready.

We assessed our portfolio through scenario analysis consistent with Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. AES is the first publicly-traded owner of utilities and power companies in the U.S. to do so.As part of that strategy, we have extended the commitment to building a sustainable organization by reducing our carbon intensity (tons of carbon dioxide/MWh) by 70 percent from 2016 levels by 2030.

Challenging our company and others like us to think big

This target is 40 percent higher than our previous goal set in April 2018. The increase is a result of the work we’re doing with customers to support the transformation of electric systems all over the world through clean energy growth platforms of renewable energy, energy storage, LNG and smart, efficient grid.

The TCFD recommendations empower businesses to challenge their approaches to climate preparedness and move the world to better outcomes. We hope more businesses recognize these opportunities and adopt the recommendations of TCFD to create long-term, effective climate strategies. 

The publication of The AES Climate Scenario Report shows not only AES’ resilience but also that the company will thrive across all the climate scenarios analyzed. The analysis incorporates third-party inputs from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) including the 1.5-2 ⁰C scenario codified in the Paris Agreement.

Working now for a sustainable future

Regardless of policies, the implementation of our portfolio strategy will have a greater positive impact on the world and help fulfill AES’ mission of improving lives by accelerating a safer and greener energy future. Moving toward renewables and low-carbon technologies provides greater opportunities over the long-term, helps tackle climate change and meets the ever-changing energy needs of the markets in which we operate.

Already, our renewable energy projects are providing low-cost, emissions-free energy, while improving air quality and protecting the environment for future generations. We believe the integration of renewable energy and storage solutions is one of the most promising opportunities in the industry.

In fact, the report analysis shows that carbon capture and sequestration could be costlier and later to market whereas renewable energy is more economical and can lead to more sustainable growth for our customers and stakeholders.

Our shifting portfolio includes innovative solutions such as the green blend and extend offering, which systematically replaces coal with lower cost renewables and accelerates access to low-cost solar and wind for existing customers, while maintaining the reliability offered by the thermal assets. Through 2020, we expect to add two to three gigawatts (GW) of new capacity in renewables annually.

The industry is driving to limit climate-related impacts, and I am proud to say we are leading the way. The strategy detailed in the report demonstrates the company’s commitment to delivering attractive returns for shareholders while being one of the world’s leading global sustainable energy companies for years to come. 

Andrés Gluski

AES President and CEO

A Vision for Restoring Puerto Rico’s Grid

December 18, 2017

Federal and local officials in Puerto Rico are working to fully restore power to the island and end the longest blackout in U.S. history. Following a direct hit from Hurricane Maria in September, local communities are nearing three months without power and don’t expect full restoration until spring 2018. To ensure devastation of this level does not occur again, key stakeholders in Puerto Rico are rethinking how the island generates and delivers energy and how they will rebuild its electricity system for resiliency in the face of future severe weather.

As a trusted partner on the island for the past 15 years, and at the request of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, AES put forward a vision for the grid that uses a network of regional mini-grids powered by solar and battery storage to increase reliability, strengthen flexibility and reduce reliance on expensive imported oil and diesel.

We outlined our vision in a recently-published op-ed in The Hill and an interview in Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Dia, explaining how a network of connected mini-grids is the right approach. The Government of Puerto Rico is expected to release its plan for rebuilding later this month, and we wanted to ensure our ideas were part of the options being considered by everyone working on the reconstruction.

EXCERPT – FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE HILL

“…if an island-wide grid in some form isn’t in place, communities can only rely on the resources they can afford to put in place. While some can add solar, others may have to rely on outdated and costly oil and diesel-fueled generation powered by imported fuel. A smarter, faster and more cost-effective use of resources is put larger-scale solar and battery storage installations across the island’s grid (front-of-the-meter) where it can both prevent outages at a larger scale and provide additional services/value to the grid.”

We’re committed to both immediate recovery and long-term resilience for the island. To that end, we‘re sending 6 MW of batteries in shipping containers to be deployed in areas more severely damaged by the storm. The containers, which must be powered down and shipped, will arrive in Puerto Rico in January 2018, and can help repower key community and commercial buildings in as many as six town centers.

Our people and their families live and work in Puerto Rico and we want to make sure they never have to endure a hardship such as this again. As the stakeholders in Puerto Rico move forward with rebuilding a cleaner, more resilient and affordable grid, we are here and will continue to help.

Chris Shelton

AES VP and Chief Technology Officer

An instantly scalable clean-tech, as powerful as any before it

December 7, 2017

n the power sector, a new clean technology has the ability to open up a new dimension of value in a traditionally asset-driven industry and also accelerate the transformation of the entire system at an unmatched pace and scale – and that technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

I recently spoke on this topic during The AI Summit San Francisco with a session titled “AI and the Why of Energy.” The electric grid is a huge share of the world’s built infrastructure and most of it was deployed before we had modern computing equipment or communications. It was optimized in a world with limited visibility and control, which means the electric grid is materially overbuilt in order to provide reliability. This overbuild will produce enormous value when it is unlocked by the combination of communications, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI – making the grid more efficient, more resilient and cleaner.

But what needs to happen in order to get there? Our experience is that power system stakeholders ask five key questions when evaluating any new technology:

  1. How does it (really) work?
  2. Is it dependable? (reliability)
  3. Is it scalable? (meaningful)
  4. Is it really sustainable?
  5. How much does it cost?

We’ve seen this play out over the past 10 years since AES introduced advanced energy storage into the market. Through commercial projects we were able to demonstrate that this clean technology worked and it was dependable, but the last three questions took years to prove and required the validation of industry regulators, customers and analysts.

AI is unique and fascinating in the context of how it is applied in the power sector because the inverse is true. AI has already proven it’s scalable, sustainable and cost effective – questions three through five are answered.

What remains are two questions that businesses and power system stakeholders can validate themselves without the oversight of regulators or the introduction of market incentives: how does it work and is it dependable? Once these two questions are explored in full, we’re going to see AI everywhere in the electric industry. It’s going to happen swiftly and significantly, and it’s going to require us to think big about the ways we embrace and apply this new clean technology.

But will companies commit to answering the first two questions?

AES is committing. Digital solutions are a multiplier of value, making both existing systems and investments in new forms of energy more profitable. AI can ensure we utilize the millions of connected assets on the electricity grid to their full potential, from utility scale solar and wind farms down to the washing machines and toaster ovens in our homes. Improved awareness, classification and prediction of outcomes made possible by digital intelligence will enhance business value for utilities and energy consumers alike, fundamentally enabling more abundant and sustainable power for society.

Just as we applied lithium-ion batteries in the power sector to unlock capacity within existing grid assets 10 years ago, we are excited by the possibilities we see in applying AI to the industry, to our own business, and to meeting our mission of improving lives.

Chris Shelton, AES VP and Chief Technology Officer