André von Frantzius
Commercial Director
Grupo Desmex
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View from the Top

Harnessing the Power of the Sun

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 10:50

Q: How have you translated your experience in the solar industry to the automotive sector?

A: The world is moving toward electric mobility. BMW is one of the sector’s pioneers, offering an electric vehicle with three different speeds of charging stations. Each charger has different power requirements to rein in costs. BMW located a strategic partner in the solar industry for each of these stations. This was innovative because the paradigm was energy centralization. In the future, energy will be generated locally for individual consumption and stored for transport applications.

Desmex is collaborating with BMW as a solar panel manufacturer. In 2013 we acquired the German company Solarnova, which has 35 years of experience in the solar market. Solarnova is capable of producing different solar panel technologies, namely a regular mono or polycrystalline solar panel and a translucent panel for architectonic integration. We added a third technology based on glass film. The advantage Mexico holds over the US is that there are no snowstorms so we are not required to use actual glass in construction. These glass film panels can also be used for architectonic integration and are much lighter than regular glass.

Q: How is Desmex participating with other companies to develop BMW’s charging stations?

A: We have an indirect relationship with players on different parts of the process. BMW organized tenders for each step leading to our closing the contract, as did Schneider, GE and every other company involved. Schneider focuses on the charging infrastructure and the connection between the car and the station. As vehicle plugs are universal, most companies can use BMW charging stations' technology. Clients need only decide between a supercharger, a fast charger or a regular charger.

Q: How is Desmex evolving to adapt to the increasing demand for charging infrastructure?

A: Desmex has a specific solution for parking lots and malls based on solar roofs. Building owners are our direct clients, while they charge the user for the vehicle’s energy consumption. We try to establish long-term contracts, to become a socially responsible corporation. We offer to cover parking spaces for the disabled and for electric vehicles with our panels but the final goal is to cover the entire lot. Industrial and commercial tariffs are low, so the return on investment for a solar project of this magnitude could take 11-12 years to materialize.

Q: How are tariffs expected to work for the final customer in public electric vehicle charging points?

A: Even though the market has opened up, energy consumption and commercialization are still under CFE’s control. But clients are now able to generate their own energy or look for cheaper options from competitors in the market. The public infrastructure offers energy free of charge to electric vehicle owners to incentivize the market. Once there is more penetration, the government might introduce a subsidized tariff, eventually moving toward real energy costs.

Q: What is the status of Desmex’s solar project for Guanajuato Puerto Interior?

A: The project will be unveiled in October 2016. We are already working on the second stage and have landed a five-year contract with one of the park’s tenants. These are difficult negotiations that depend on energy prices and the duration of the contract. Although we have submitted a higher price, we offer the advantage that a project of this type takes only five years to see a return on investment. This initial stage has an energy capacity of 3MW, while the second will add 10MW. We are planning a third phase for an additional 10MW.