Big Potential in Small-Scale SolarWed, 02/22/2017 - 16:45
Q: Where are the market’s best opportunities and what does Industronic bring to the table?
MB: Industronic stands apart from other Mexican companies in the sector because of its strong focus on innovation. Our founder was the inventor of the first voltage regulator made in Mexico and his innovative vision remains at the heart of the company’s culture. Being in Monterrey we have first-hand knowledge about the industrial sector’s needs, which has helped us develop attractive solutions for this segment. We are working to adapt our products and services to the future when we expect to see a larger share of renewables on the grid. We foresee substantial growth in solar energy capacity, which is why we decided to open our solar energy division. The company has four business units: energy storage, voltage regulation, power conditioning and power generation, which mostly focuses on solar energy production.
Q: What is the company’s share of the solar market and how is it distributed?
AA: We provide turnkey solutions for solar energy projects, with over 15,000 clients in our portfolio. Since the opening of our solar division in 2015, we have grown 800 percent, which speaks of the great business opportunities available in this segment. Our solar division benefits from the company’s 43 years of experience, large client portfolio and a strong network of local offices, which has allowed us to serve different market segments including residential and industrial projects. The residential sector is our main market niche, especially high-consumption (DAC) users, which represents 85 percent of our solar division’s total volume sales. Our projects with PEMEX also play an important role in our solar business. We have finished two projects to provide self-sustaining energy to oil platforms, both consisting of an off-grid solar system with inverters and storage, and we have six more already signed with the state-owned firm. Our projects with PEMEX represent 50 percent of the total revenues generated by our solar energy division.
Q: What financing plans are available to residential customers?
AA: We work together with FIDE to provide special financing plans for projects up to 6kW. FIDE finances 100 percent of the project in these cases including 10 percent of sunk costs. For larger projects FIDE does not cover any of the sunk costs but it finances the project at low-interest rates. We also collaborate with INFONAVIT, enabling our clients to use their housing credit to finance solar energy projects. The company is in talks with INFONAVIT to integrate solar panels directly into the housing facilities it offers its beneficiaries.
Q: To what extent is Industronic interested in entering the commercial and utility-scale market niches?
AA: We see great potential in those sectors, which is where we see the market heading. But we are not interested in entering these niches until new attractive financing schemes are available. The financing plans our clients can access now are too expensive, discouraging them from investing in solar energy projects. We have witnessed this in the restaurant industry where a project’s ROI is not interesting enough to favor installing a solar system over opening a new restaurant.
Q: What strategies are in place to maintain the company’s solar energy business growth rate?
AA: We will continue focusing on building long-term relationships rather than just closing a sale and installing a project. Solar projects for residential customers should be advertised by word-of-mouth because that is the best strategy to overcome the mistrust of potential customers. This is particularly important for us as we sell the promise of cheaper and more reliable energy. We have faced challenges but we are prepared to solve them. No one can ensure zero failures but we can ensure a prompt and efficient response in any eventuality