On October 30th - November 2nd, 2019, SACIV welcomed three international visitors from France for an IVLP project entitled “Next-Generation Energy Technologies and Efficient Resource Uses." This project was developed to demonstrate the role of public-private partnerships in energy research and development and to introduce the policies of U.S. states that have pledged to uphold the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change within their borders, which City of San Antonio decided to support.
On Thursday morning, our French guests had a tour of an OCI Solar Power solar farm, where they learned about the equipment and land, history of the construction process, information about the communities it generates energy for, and economic impact in the area. This meeting illustrated the unique process of providing more renewable energy to the community and the infrastructure that allows the economic use of environmentally-sound technologies. It was helpful to see the acres of these batteries and hear about different testing projects this farm runs to grow their potential.
Later that day, our guests met with the representatives of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute, which was created by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) . The delegation learned about the ways in which this Institute partners with the community and contributes to a new energy future that builds on a diverse resource base to position San Antonio as a significant contributor to the 21st century global energy economy. They also discussed its role as a center of intellectual creativity that promotes socio-economic development regionally, nationally, and globally.
In the afternoon, the delegation headed to the CPS Energy where they met with representatives of EPICenter. This Center propels energy innovation and thought for the global future with a think tank, incubator and accelerator, strategic partnerships, and critical conversations around energy. “EPI” stands for Energy, Partnerships and Innovation. The group learned about it’s vision to be a hub for energy innovation and thought leadership driving profound global impact. They discussed their programs and events to accelerate start-ups, help find solutions and mentors, and enhance local businesses.
The day didn’t finish with this meeting, the group still had more energy to meet with the founder of RangelRenewables. This discussion was helpful to understand the perspective of an entrepreneur who has a passion and desire to build a network to increase alternative energy generation and usage, not only in commercial, but also in residential areas of San Antonio and across Texas.
On Friday morning, the delegation met with the representatives of the Texas Energy Advocates Coalition, which is comprised of energy advocates who strive to educate the community, network with like-minded individuals, and promote the further advancement of the energy sector. The group discussed social events, energy education days, and advocacy for the energy sector, specifically when legislators propose a bill that helps or hurts the industry. They also connect people to promote a better understanding of the energy industry and the benefit to the community. The discussion turned into exchange of expertise on the mission of educating and promoting information. It was obvious that neither in France nor in the US you can rely only on one perspective and that there should be open discussions involving different players of energy production and consumption. One of the delegates was invited to take part in such a discussion for the next event this Coalition will organize. These exchanges matter!
Next, our guests met with a representative of the Bi-National Energy Committee of AEM, which aims to connect the energy industry on both sides of the US-Mexico border and facilitate access for foreign direct investment and supply chain integration. Through this meeting, participants asked questions about the pros and cons of facilitating the exchange of opportunities and interconnectivity among companies in the US and Mexico doing business within the energy sector.
In the afternoon, the group headed for the City of San Antonio’s Office of Sustainability. Through innovative programs focusing on energy efficiency, community and corporate sustainability, and sustainable transportation, the award-winning Office of Sustainability is working to make San Antonio a great place to live, work, and play while enhancing the environment, quality-of-life, and economic vitality of the city. They talked about their active work to reduce energy consumption within its municipal operations and within the community. French visitors learned about many initiatives and programs to promote sustainability including their Energy Management Division, which is their newest program and represents an ambitious effort to reduce the city’s annual utility costs and maximize the energy and water performance of current and future city properties. It was amazing to learn that some of the program initiatives in San Antonio were taken from the Paris Program. Therefore, there was a lot of collaboration between San Antonio and Paris going on before this meeting even began.
Overall, the group from France found the visit to San Antonio very informative to meet their project objectives. They appreciated the opportunity to meet with partners, to see the solar farm in action, and to ask questions of counterparts who work and contribute to a new energy future. The visit made a significant impact on the visitors and their exchange experience. We greatly appreciate each partner, organization, and representative of San Antonio’s community for their collaboration and partnership in furthering our mission. #ExchangeMatters