Daniel Gómez
Director General
View from the Top

Biofuels Made in Mexico

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 09:37

Q: What is the added value that SOLBEN provides to the Mexican market?

A: SOLBEN is a 100 percent Mexican company that has been involved in the biofuels market for 11 years. Our added value is in not having to import foreign technology for biofuel production; we have developed a competitive national option. Our proposal not only reduces production costs but all the necessary processes are managed to high standards. The bioenergy industry is mainly focused on the centralization of raw materials for biomass production. We produce biomass on a smaller scale through a distributed energy model that decreases production costs and maximizes output. Our plants are modular but they comply with the same quality requirements and are as competitive in price as industrial plants.
Q: How has SOLBEN diversified its offer over the years?

A: Eleven years ago, we competed against a diesel price of MX$10/L. Despite biodiesel being historically more expensive than diesel, this has been changing over the years, independently from the Energy Reform’s results, because raw material prices to produce biodiesel have not increased at the same rate as oil prices. Eleven years ago, we were more idealistic and less informed. Our belief was that biodiesel was going to substitute diesel but now we understand that a balance between both fuels is the right answer. Instead of fueling a bus with 100L of biodiesel, we can fuel 100 buses with 1L of biodiesel and 99L of standard diesel. In 2015, the Special Tax on Products and Services (IEPS) not only affected diesel but every other fuel as well, causing uncertainty and motivating us to innovate and look for new ways of doing business.
Q: In which sectors does SOLBEN develop its main activities?

A: SOLBEN started as a technology provider, as we worked with a B2B scheme with companies that wanted to produce biofuels with our technology. Over the years, we have become 
a biodiesel producer as well. Today, we gather the raw materials, produce biodiesel and commercialize it with certain clients. In effect, we turned into an integrator of the entire value chain of biofuels. We distribute a mix of biodiesel and diesel because this is what our customers want. Also, technology is one of our strongest areas. For instance, we identified an interest in castor oil in Mexico. The plant to produce this type of oil can be found in desert regions and after purifying its oil to a certain level you can obtain a subproduct for a market that pays more money than it pays for biofuels. Additionally, we started working with the production of jet biofuel, which in recent years has gained attention due to the high pollutant factor of its oil-based counterpart.

Q: In terms of expansion, what are the company’s main goals by the end of 2019?

A: We believe the biggest potential lies in the development of national technology. Our company’s goal is to be a provider of local equipment that complies with international quality standards. At the moment, the Ministries of Energy and Agriculture are our main customers as most of their projects end up in our hands. When working with these government entities, we validate if projects are legitimate or could discredit the industry. Our objective is that our clients’ projects are profitable and provide a good reference for the bioenergy industry. On the other hand, the most important objective is to consolidate SOLBEN as a leading company in the solar market with ENERLUZ, our recent division.
Q: How is SOLBEN helping to incentivize the development of biofuels in Mexico?

A: The best way to incentivize the industry’s growth is through information. Many of our potential clients demand bioenergy projects based on erroneous assumptions. There is a great deal of misinformation in the market so it is necessary to have the right approach. SOLBEN has made a big effort to raise awareness in both the national and international markets. In the last four years, we have participated in more than 450 events with the objective of informing people about the benefits of our technology. This has resulted in many potential clients, relevant alliances and collaboration with the Mexican government.