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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Julia Bevacqua

Ivey Alumni partnership is fueling clean energy innovation in South America

Jan 18, 2022


Clean energy is an essential ingredient for a more sustainable future. It’s even one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations, but not all regions around the world have the right conditions to produce enough energy for high-consumption areas. Therefore, being able to transport clean energy to where it’s needed is essential for a more sustainable energy system.

One of the best ways to do this is through high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines. HVDC lines reduce the amount of energy lost during transmission and provide more regions with reliable access to remote clean energy, reducing the need for fossil fuel fired generation.

Such HVDC systems exist all over the world, but two Ivey alumni are taking the technology to a new level in South America.

David Jones and Andrew Lee are the co-founders and leaders of Pacifico HVDC Link and Andina Link. They are developing HVDC connections throughout South America to connect areas with excess clean energy supply to high demand areas.

Jones and Lee both completed their MBAs at Ivey and met while working at a Canadian hydro developer when the company was expanding their operations to South America.

The pair had an instant bond. “We had an immediate connection due to our mutual interest in this vibrant region of the world and our desire to utilize the development of renewable energy sources as a catalyst to support the economic and social development of the region,” explained Andrew Lee.

Their complementary experiences have played a large role in their success. Jones is an enthusiastic entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience in commercial real estate and general contracting and a passion for renewable energy. Lee has been in the energy development field for nearly 15 years, working in a variety of roles from business development to technical and financial. He is also the Co-Founder and President of Innovia GEO, a provider of energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling systems.

Their shared Ivey education helped fuel their partnership. “Andrew and I speak a common business language that originated from our foundation of learning through our MBA experiences,” said David Jones. The pair work through problems by challenging one another until they come to an agreed upon solution, just like Ivey’s case study method, suggested Lee. 

Some of the potential HVDC projects that Jones and Lee are working on include connections from Peru to Chile, Paraguay to Argentina, Colombia to Peru, and more. The 700-kilometre Peru to Chile line is already underway with construction expected to take place within the next 5 years. The line will connect hydropower suppliers in Peru with mining companies in Chile, the largest consumers of electricity in the country.

The Chilean mining sector has historically relied on fossil fuels but recent increases in water and energy use, plus decreases in copper grade and productivity have led to higher costs and a hit to their global competitiveness. A stable and sustainable supply of clean energy could reduce costs and help the industry meet decarbonization goals. While Chile has lots of wind and solar power resources, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, so there’s a need for a reliable source of clean energy to support them. Chile’s neighbour to the north has enough renewable and reliable hydropower to share. The proposed HVDC line will help facilitate this sustainable exchange.

Jones and Lee have a big vision for a more sustainable future that they are hoping to execute through HVDC lines across South America. They understand the importance of reliable and affordable access to green energy and they are excited to be a part of such sustainable solutions.