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Specificity is the Magic Word: ECPA Exclusive Interview with Ruben Contreras, Project Manager

This week, ECPA Clearinghouse had the chance to sit down with Ruben Contreras to discuss the upcoming launch of  “Renewable Energy and Climate Science: Metrology and Technology Challenges in the Americas.” As project manager, Contreras gave us an exclusive insight about the formation of the project. With over 15 years experience in energy, environment, atmospheric science and in climate change arenas, Contreras’ leadership in this initiative comes from significant experience and studies.

This project has a timeline of two years, and will continue until October 2015. The goal is to create specific measurement standards that can be applied throughout the Americas, which will allow for a better deployment of Renewable Energy technology and a better understanding of climate change. Contreras spoke on the importance of scientific unification in our hemisphere. “In Latin America, we need a formal advancement in renewable energies and climate change.” By formal advancement, it means that comprehensive internationally accepted standards be established.

As a scientist and engineer, Contreras brings logic and specific focus to this project.

More specific measurements lead to more reliable conclusions, which decrease the likelihood of error. Contreras explained “scientific measurements are vital, as the slightest detail can lead to a huge chain of inaccuracies.”

No matter how complex an issue is, it needs to be explained simply so that experts aren’t the only ones who can examine and offer opinions. With a topic like climate change, everyone is affected, from animals to businessmen to politicians, and this project hopes to create a bridge between scientists and society. Key stakeholders in Latin America need to agree on baseline standards for measuring climate change and renewable energy. As Contreras said, discussions can be quite vague. “We need an agreement among nations on standards of climate change. People might hear things like, ‘Industrialized countries emit a lot of CO2’ but, well how much is a lot? What does that mean?” This project hopes to take general ideas and conclusions and have tangible measurements for the significance. “Once we have measurement standards, everyone can evaluate energy decisions on the same level. Every person, business, or country can fairly compare the uses of energy in their own communities.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is the technical partner for this ECPA initiative, and the funding will be provided by the US State Department. The first year of the project will be a series of meetings to present the initiative, and evaluate the willingness and disposition of participation. Assessing needs and participation will help gage the reaction for the program. The second year will be a series of capacity building, trainings, and research. The timeline is also flexible, and can be adjusted to fit the growing concerns of the region. NIST will be assisting in the trainings with their expertise. The countries of the Americas are interested in climate change, but that interest needs to establish norms. “There is a lot of effort in the region, yet it is so dispersed and so spread out that it seems like nothing is being done. We need to unify all these great programs with set standards.”

One of the end goals is to create a draft base-line on metrology standards harmonization for climate change and renewable energy to be presented to the Inter-American Metrology System (SIM) with the hope of further collaboration. Ideally, this project is only the introduction to more research and studies. As Contreras commented, “Often, when you do a great job, if there is no follow up, it means nothing. You need continuation.”

Congratulations to Ruben Contreras for this ambitious initiative, and ECPA is proud to have him as a vital part of the team! 

Ruben Contreras Lisperguer is specialist at the Energy and Climate Mitigation Section of the Department of Sustainable Development of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS). He has more than 15 years of experience in energy, environment, atmospheric science and climate change. He worked as a researcher in Antarctica and as a Project Manager and Project Engineer on Energy and Climate Change with International Governmental Organizations and Local Governments Institutions in the Americas. He holds a degree of Engineer in Atmospheric Science/Meteorology, a MSc in Solar Energy Technologies and is a Renewable Energy Ph.D. candidate.

Photo Credit for World Photo

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