Applying Solar Experience in The Battery Storage Environment
STORY INLINE POST
Q: What are Skysense’s biggest success stories in the Mexican market?
A: We consider a project a success story when we achieve a great result for our clients and they recommend us to others. Some of our projects date back nine years. Several clients have gone on to become friends or investors of Skysense, which is a point of pride for the company.
Skysense began in the residential sector, just like many other mature solar companies. We later moved to cater to the C&I sector but not before installing solar panels in over 1,000 houses. C&I demand took off in 2Q18 because of a change in how the grid operator calculates demand terms. Our first 0.5MW solar system, which is the current permitting threshold, began in June 2018 and is one of the first Mexican systems of this type. Another major success was over the course of 2021, when we installed a 3MW solar roof for a client that owns a carport parking location that includes a battery energy storage system (BESS). Overall, we installed more than 10MW in 2021.
Q: What were the main factors driving Skysense’s growth?
A: There are three main factors. Firstly, 2020 represented a year of major economic contraction. In 2021, economic reactivation meant there was a great deal of money in the market. Solar assets are long term and have a good return on investment (ROI), so it made sense to invest in solar, especially as inflation was becoming problematic. Finally, the market´s awareness regarding the need for sustainable strategies grew significantly compared to previous years. Other companies, such as solar suppliers, experienced much more demand in 2021 compared to 2019.
Q: How does the company set itself apart from competitors in the design, engineering and integration of solar systems for C&I clients?
A: Solar is a commodity-based sector: solar panels, inverters and structures are all commodities. Nevertheless, there are factors that can set companies apart. Skysense is an experienced company, operating since 2013. Furthermore, we are flexible in how clients acquire solar systems, based on their cash flow, as well as on the technology that best suits them. We can propose an upfront fee, leases and payment terms to meet fiscal requirements. Another selling point is Skysense’s policy that makes operations and maintenance (O&M) its own responsibility. For instance, we guarantee a certain amount of KWh generated for a period of 10 years. Any technical risks are on us, no matter how the system has been acquired.
Q: How does the company assure quality in the technology it installs?
A: The company has worked arduously to build long-term relationships with solar distributors. In addition, Skysense has been using the same brand of photovoltaic solar panels for the past five years. We also make sure that the components we work with are internationally certified and we have a team dedicated to quality assurance. Equipment is, of course, important but a correct installation provides quality for the long run.
Q: What would you say are the main benefits BESS can bring to C&I clients?
A: Companies can save a great deal of money with a storage system when they shift across the schedule that pertains to Mexico’s tariffs, which feature lower costs at night and higher costs in the late-afternoon. Furthermore, BESS serves as a backup in case of a blackout and can help companies meet the requirements of CRE’s grid code. Companies can bring the power factor back to one, as it is a big source of reactive energy, or as much as a major factory could need.
Q: What role do you predict for green hydrogen in Mexico’s future market?
A: Great question! As we see it, hydrogen is the next energy-related technology right within our reach. Hydrogen can be produced using non-clean resources. For it to become green, it needs to be produced using another renewable energy source. One of the first steps Mexico can take to make hydrogen viable is to transport it through the country’s natural gas pipeline system, making it a small part of a mix consisting mostly of natural gas. Green hydrogen will be an excellent solution for transport in the future but the first step will be to use it as a sustainable mix with natural gas, then to use it for storage and to generate heat in industry.
Q: What are Skysense’s objectives for 2022?
A: We have been growing by 100 percent every year since 2015. Last year, our growth was even more explosive at 300 percent. For 2022, we are aiming for 100 percent once again. We expect that 60 percent of the year’s revenue will come from BESS systems because we are shifting away from solar panels. We are strategically shifting towards BESS because as of today, the battery storage market is unregulated. Therefore, the BESS can meet the client´s peak capacity while disregarding the 0.5MW cap In regard to whether I expect this regulatory situation to change, CRE had been working on storage regulation in the past but once the present administration entered, these plans were delayed. I do not expect regulation to arrive in the next three years but the segment will likely become regulated in the future. Nevertheless, BESS does not function like intermittent renewable energy source. As opposed to wind and solar, it does not cause instability in the grid but actively functions to balance it.
Skysense specializes in the design, engineering, integration, financing, operation and maintenance of battery energy storage and photovoltaic solar panel systems in Mexico’s commercial and industrial business environment.