360-Degree Technical Expertise for Utility-Scale ProjectsFri, 02/01/2019 - 10:36
Developing utility-scale renewable energy projects is a behemoth task, and any failure at the initial stages can have a resounding impact throughout their 20-30 years of useful life. Edgar Vázquez, Country Manager Mexico of Enertis, says specialized engineering bodies are needed to ensure everything is done correctly from inception. “With the publication of the new Interconnection Manual on Feb. 9, 2018 and its technical requirements to obtain interconnection contracts with CFE, including the indicative, system impact and facilities studies, an engineering body must be behind it to support project developers with these procedures,” he says.
For large-scale renewable energy projects, the indicative study gathers minimal information, such as project location, interconnection point, detailed single-line diagram and its seasonal meteorological database. The system impact study comprises information on all primary equipment and components, dynamic models for simulation, layouts and specifications, delving more into technical content. It provides CENACE the necessary tools to simulate the plant’s stability and assess production impact on the grid. The facilities study certifies the required installations are adequate for the power plant’s interconnection and its cost. The final outcome of all three studies determines if the project sponsor or developer decides whether to continue with warranties, sign the interconnection contract and start construction work.
Enertis acts as an outsourced technical department, actively participating in this process with its clients, preparing all the required information and even examining CENACE’s interconnection resolution. As an engineering and consulting firm, it specializes exclusively in renewable energy projects. “Enertis’ first steps in Spain in 2006 were as a module-testing laboratory,” says Vázquez. “We soon branched out to other markets throughout Europe but also abroad, undertaking basic and sophisticated testing procedures, and finally opened in 2012 local offices in the US, Mexico and Chile to render support to the different players involved in renewable energy projects throughout their entire value chain.” Enertis also developed as a pioneer in the industry of mobile laboratories to enhance its on-site testing capabilities and fulfilling international standards. One of Enertis’ vehicles is based in Europe, another in Chile to cover the South American markets and a third in San Francisco to cover North America. “Given the upsurge of renewable energy projects in Mexico, we are thinking of relocating the San Francisco mobile laboratory here,” says Vázquez.
Present in Mexico since 2012, Enertis developed its consulting and development support services and its business grew parallel to the reform’s advance. Now, the company can cater to the needs of project developers, IPPs, equity funds and financial institutions. Constantly evolving, Enertis does not want to box itself into a particular niche. “For example, although Enertis has a long-standing trajectory in PV projects, it diversified to provide its services to wind farm projects in 2017, given the growing demand in Mexico,” Vázquez says.
The developed expertise allows Enertis to be strategically positioned in every link of the value chain, from greenfield projects to asset management, with the exception of EPC and O&M. “We are able to play different roles, including owner’s engineer, independent engineering or technical adviser, depending on the niche we are involved in,” Vázquez explains. “Our value lies in our panoramic vision, with the possibility to provide different points of view for one single project.”
There is a certain seasonality over project developmentrelated services in Mexico as a result of the electricity auctions, says Vázquez. “Two months prior to the prequalification phase of a long-term electricity auction, Enertis has a high workload in due diligence, third-party expert opinions, site appraisals, power-output studies and red-flag identification,” he explains. “Throughout the rest of the year, we cover financing due diligences, render development support, engineering services and construction supervision with people on-site contributing with their expert engineering knowledge and quality control services to the projects’ success.”