We are proud to be part of the growing Deetken Impact team, and are excited to introduce this diverse and talented group of investment professionals. Each month, we will feature one of our colleagues so you can get to know them better!
Meet Didier Alpizar, a Technical Advisor with Deetken Impact Sustainable Energy (DISE), Since 2016 he has actively participated in the technical analysis of renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, including technical due diligence, monitoring during construction, and asset management. He has more than 16 years of experience in the renewable energy sector, both in the planning, evaluation, design and construction of renewable energy projects in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as in important infrastructure projects in the region.
A Costa Rican living in Honduras, Didier holds an Engineering degree from the University of Costa Rica, and speaks Spanish and English.
What drew you to the renewable energy industry, and what brought you to Deetken Impact specifically?
From a young age, I had the opportunity to get involved in renewable energy projects, specifically large hydroelectric projects in my native country, Costa Rica. The experience was fascinating not only due to the level of complexity and how interesting these large works are from an engineering standpoint, but also because of their importance at the national level. First and foremost, they are projects that make a significant and measurable contribution to the fight against climate change, which is the greatest crisis of our generation, by generating clean energy that replaces fossil fuel-based energy production. However, they are also drivers of development and economic growth at all levels.
I remember with excitement the undoubtedly positive social impact that occurs when, as a result of the development of a new project, you see children gaining access to education in remote places where it was previously impossible, or you witness firsthand how people manage to build their first homes, or in some more basic cases, acquire their first motorcycle that becomes the means of transportation enabling access to healthcare and education in remote areas when mobility was the main issue.
These might seem like simple things we take for granted, but in the reality of Latin American countries, building these kinds of social contributions into renewable energy development projects, provide tangible and high-impact results. The increasingly well-directed efforts to give women a well-deserved and necessary place in all areas of human development, including renewable energy, have not only been rewarding but another driving force behind these projects we are involved in day by day.
I first supported DISE on a consulting basis many years ago, and I’m still here today! When DISE’s investment team initially began exploring opportunities in Honduras, I put my engineering background to work in linking technical analysis with the financial aspects of potential investments in renewable energy projects.
You have seen tremendous technological advancements throughout your career, can you tell us more about those that are most memorable or impactful?
Over the last 10-12 years, we have witnessed rapid improvements in technology and specifically the development and research in energy generation technologies has made significant contributions to this sector.
For instance, less than 10 years ago, we needed over twice the area to install the same solar farm that we would install today, because photovoltaic solar modules have more than doubled their capacity without significantly changing in size. On the other hand, the increased pace of production and the popularization of solar energy generation systems have made costs accessible to many more people.
Following this trend, it’s not far-fetched to then think that technologies such as home energy storage systems with batteries and zero-emission electric vehicles and electric public transportation, among others, will be predominant in the short term, and that for our children, talking about combustion vehicles will be as distant in time as talking about the first generations of transistor-based or punched card computers are today.
Equally significant has been the development of new technologies that complement and certainly facilitate the work we do. For instance, today, drones have become indispensable tools for project monitoring. It’s hard to conceive large-scale solar energy projects, without the use of drones to conduct thermographic analyses to diagnose potential failures in electrical systems, just to mention one application. This is undoubtedly a technological change of recent years that has come to stay.
What is your favorite part of the work you do, and why?
Well, it’s difficult to define a favorite part of my job, because I enjoy what we do. I would say that perhaps the most rewarding aspect is when you realize that your work adds value to the business we are engaged in. When your technical advice, your perspective on a topic, or guidance on how to solve a specific problem results in a better project, that’s when you truly get to enjoy what you do. Indeed, that’s definitely the essence of what we do: striving to make the energy projects we support more successful and impactful. That’s the win-win relationship we always aim for.
I also really enjoy visiting projects under construction, and witnessing their growth is very gratifying. The start of the energy generation process is always the icing on the cake because it represents the culmination of a challenging yet highly satisfying journey.
Didier and his family enjoyed visiting Jaime Duque Park in Tocancipá, Colombia
What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
Well, it might not necessarily come as a surprise to those who have known me for many years, but in the context of Deetken Impact, it could be something that people involved in our day-to-day work wouldn’t associate with me:
I was in charge of tunnel excavation and underground works in hydroelectric projects in Costa Rica, and it was something I immensely enjoyed. Underground engineering is fascinating but also very challenging. I remember with a lot of nostalgia the instructive experiences underground, where I spent many hours of my workday making decisions directly associated with the progress and construction of underground structures, all while bearing the immense responsibility of ensuring the safety of the hundreds of tunnel workers who were part of the invaluable operational workforce doing the hard work.
I have immense gratitude for countless tunnel workers of all levels who taught me the art of tunneling, but more importantly, the value of teamwork. These were workers with a spirit and a work ethic that I will forever admire. This undoubtedly helped me develop skills that have served me in all other areas of my life.
I might not have the appearance of a chef or a dancer either, but I also immensely enjoy both activities. I love cooking at home, and over the years, I’ve created more sophisticated and elaborate dishes. My family and friends really enjoy them, so I believe I fortunately inherited my mom’s good cooking skills. As for dancing, there might be more debate about how good I am at it, but I certainly enjoy it!
What do you like to do in your free time?
This is the easiest question of all. In my free time, I really enjoy traveling with my family (my wife and my two children).
I believe the love for traveling is universal. I’m no exception, but I especially love experiencing it through the eyes of my family, especially the kids. So, whenever I have the chance, we travel to a place where we can spend time together, try different foods, but above all, see the kids happy and enjoying a different environment. That truly is priceless!
At the top of our favorite family travel destinations are definitely the beaches, especially those located in the central and western part of the Guanacaste province in Costa Rica. That fresh sea breeze combined with the mixture of colors in the sky during a beach sunset near the end of the year is truly rejuvenating!
I must say that I love baseball, and I can spend hours watching a game that many people find boring.
I could visit the Panama Canal thousands of times. It’s an incredible engineering feat, and it never ceases to amaze me. I’ve felt a connection with it since I was a child, and that makes me feel somewhat Panamanian deep down in my heart.
Lastly, I believe not many people could say this, but recently, thanks to a retired historian relative who’s a genealogy enthusiast, I’ve come to know the complete genealogical line of the Alpízar family, from the first one who arrived in Costa Rica from Spain up to dates before the year 1700. I’m part of the 10th generation!
What is your favourite city/country you have visited, and which is at the top of your bucket list to visit?
I like many countries. I believe you can always find beautiful places in any country.
As for favorite cities I’ve been to, it could be Barcelona. I think the combination of the climate, the cuisine (lots of seafood that I love), wellness sensation and a city with many contrasts could be among my top favorite cities.
I would love to visit a large city in Japan. I greatly admire the order, discipline, and the ability to overcome adversities that the Japanese have shown throughout history. Those futuristic cities, with the most advanced technology in a culture always ahead of its time, seem very intriguing to me and are undoubtedly a destination that’s on my bucket list.
You can learn more about Didier by following him on LinkedIn!