Daniel Pardo
Mexico Country Manager Energy Division

Certifications Translate Into Confidence

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 14:50

Very few companies can boast such unique origins as DNV GL, hailing from Germany and Norway through a merger of DNV and GL respectively. Since, it has become the world’s largest classification society. The firm operates within the four business areas of Maritime, Business Assurance, Oil & Gas, and Energy. Daniel Pardo, Mexico Country Manager Energy Division, shares that one of the company’s main goals in Mexico is to help businesses attract investors. To do so, DNV GL assesses the potential technical risks behind each project, and provides advice to clients on risk identification and mitigation, and evaluates acceptability and outliers of the Mexican standard. “International companies involve us in their projects because they want to have a competent and professional opinion on how to control their risks,” he asserts.

The two different certifications DNV GL offers to its energy customers are product certification, mainly for wind turbines and photovoltaic panels for the Energy Division, and project certification, which remains uncommon in Mexico. Pardo points out that, for wind turbines, the attraction of certification for clients is largely generated by OEM product reliability. “Most turbine manufacturers around the world certify their products and in recent years, there was a lot of pressure on Chinese companies to have their products certified. Currently, some of these corporations certify their turbines and that increases their chances of competing with European manufacturers, which are the ones currently dominating the Mexican market.” Proper certification is a way for DNV GL to build trust among the parties involved in a project. DNV GL has been involved in the Zapoteca de Energía project, La Ventosa wind farm, and in CEMEX’s Ventikas initiative. The firm has also participated in due diligence processes for wind projects that are under construction or already operating, resulting in approximately 1,800MW of installed power. Wind energy will continue to be an important segment for DNV GL, since Prado is confident that Mexico will become the second largest wind market in Latin America over the coming years.

Regarding photovoltaic technology, DNV GL has testing facilities for solar panels in the US. Pardo says that in solar testing, his firm tries to offer results beyond the standard certification because of the lower level of control in the production process. The certification standard is less demanding than what DNV GL considers optimum, and that is why the firm advises that the panels its clients send to its testing facilities come directly from the batch that the manufacturer plans to use in a particular project. “Our testing scope increases the confidence of our clients in the panels that they are going to buy. We believe that it will be beneficial for investors in the solar field to have an external consultant like DNV GL that operates in this way.”

Although the development of photovoltaic energy has been slower than that of other renewables, Pardo believes this market will have more opportunity to grow now that the Energy Reform is in place. “When all the details are resolved, there are going to be many more large solar projects under development, and we expect to see developments of up to 10MW.” In his view, solar energy will be particularly beneficial for the northern part of the country, given its high resource availability, but it will also help diversify the matrix and add energy to the grid. However, Pardo believes the Mexican solar energy market is still lacking in extensive background research on equipment. In his view, the opening of the market might promote a focus on research similar to that seen in the wind sector. “At the moment, most solar projects are too small to justify an investment on detailed due diligence, but since we are expecting to accommodate larger solar projects, theoretically there will be enough investment in the future to pay for these technical revisions,” he expresses confidently.

Pardo says the opening of the Mexican electricity market to private participation will certainly have an impact on certification and standardization for projects. In terms of standardization, the NOMs have many standards regarding infrastructure and working protocols. From that point of view, there seem to be enough standards, but the international industry is expected to bring new knowledge into the market, which will complement the current regulation. In terms of certification, there is still some uncertainty, regarding mechanisms such as clean energy certificates, according to Pardo. These doubts are currently under review, so all industry players need to stay aware of new developments.