Katia Bernal
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CITRUS’ Ecosystem Could Completely Decarbonize Industry

By Cas Biekmann | Thu, 02/10/2022 - 12:22

Q: What have been the main achievements for the company in 2021 and what are your expectations in terms of demand for 2022?

A: Last year represented a positive shift for the company. CITRUS was fully dedicated to offering industrial solar heat solutions and industrial process equipment for companies in Mexico’s industrial sector. In 2021, we wanted to take a technological leap so we could tackle the clean energy needs of our clients more efficiently and cost-effectively. We signed a framework agreement with the Sweden-based listed company Absolicon, for the acquisition of its production line of the T160 Solar collector, which will be installed in Mexico. Absolicon has been designing proven solutions that generate steam and hot water for more than 20 years and, just like CITRUS, it is expanding globally. This makes our cooperation very beneficial. Our goal is to manufacture and install the T160 production line shortly. We are planning to develop this business case further with strategic investors.

This strategy will serve as the basis for exponential growth over the next two years. We have received a great deal of interest from major industrial companies wanting to adopt Absolicon’s unique solar collector technology solution, which offers an overwhelming 76 percent efficiency in transforming solar radiation to steam to power an industrial process. The pandemic has had an adverse impact on most market but are showing signs of stabilization. Going forward, we expect many companies to bet on efficient processes and secure energy. For this reason, we have a positive outlook on projected future growth.

 

Q: How does a recent CITRUS project highlight the company’s capabilities to tailor solar heat for industrial companies?

A: We recently installed a production line for a company in the organic cosmetics sector. The production line is 100 percent green. We use solar thermal technology to generate heat, replacing higher polluting natural gas as the energy source. We designed and manufactured the clients’ stainless steel production line, specifically adapted for its processes and integrated with CITRUS solar energy solution. Integrating solar heat into an industrial process is always somewhat difficult but as manufacturers, we engineered these systems so that they would be optimally integrated and easy to operate. The industries we focus on are cosmetics, chemical food and beverages. Any industry that generates heat using fossil fuels can benefit from adopting solar heating technology, which saves money and protects the climate in the process.

 

Q: What are the main challenges companies face when becoming more efficient in their general energy use?

A: Industrial paradigms are the issue. It is not a matter of technology or strategy because energy efficiency measures and renewable energy solutions are out there and have proven their worth. Nevertheless, it is more about changing the way companies think about their internal processes. Certain companies have spent decades doing what they do. Hence, adopting to new ways of operating is difficult, especially if their current approach works. Today, industrial companies have sustainability and cost-efficiency goals, which are beginning to open space for new approaches. Awareness regarding sustainability and its benefits is spreading rapidly.

It has been our experience that some companies are very open to change, whereas others need to be guided through the process with plenty of examples and explanations. Education is an important part of CITRUS’ work for this reason. For instance, photovoltaic solar and wind energy are much more established concepts than solar heat solutions. This means we sometimes face barriers even when our solutions can provide clear benefits. Generating heat still relies on fossil fuels, even when electricity supply is fully renewable. This makes solar heating an important part of the decarbonization puzzle. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, it is all about the business case. The solution needs to benefit economically as well. For example, we can sell thermal solar energy as a service at a fixed price over 15 years, using a heat purchase agreement. This means that no costly upfront investments from our customers are required, which enables the Mexican industry to benefit from our solutions.

 

Q: Where can CITRUS add value by integrating its solar heat-based technology with other solutions to fully decarbonize these industrial processes?

A: CITRUS’ approach has always been to cater to our client’s needs. For industrial clients, we focus on two things: lowering their contaminating emissions and having them become more competitive by reducing operational costs. Part of this cost is what companies pay for electricity or gas. We approach these challenges using a holistic view. In some cases, it is necessary to synchronize our thermal solar solution with technology based on alternative energy sources, such as renewable biofuels. Using such an approach can fully decarbonize a client’s operations. We are aware that to achieve a full energy transition, we need more than one technology.

 

Q: How does CITRUS’ solutions work to address the industrial production chain?

A: CITRUS’ Ecosystem of Solutions was designed to provide a great deal of independence and energy security to industrial companies. The system begins by optimizing energy use, employing what we call a Check-Up. Here, we help people on the technical and electrical front to implement concrete and quick energy efficiency measures aimed at saving costs with minimal investment. The next step for companies is to generate their own power, either thermal or electric. Afterward, the CITRUS Ecosystem includes energy storage technology. This is different from battery storage. Here, we use the TES pod technology produced by the Swedish listed company Azelio, which allows heat to be converted into electricity and more heat whenever and wherever it is needed in the process. In addition, it serves as a backup for the intermittency that can be experienced with solar solutions on a cloudy day. Once this issue has been fully addressed, companies can look toward a selection for specialized, highly efficient equipment that can now be powered by renewable energy at all hours of the day.

The core value of our proposition is the following: to offer industrial companies a production line that operates without CO2 emissions, while providing a stable and secure operation. All with a great amount of cost savings. Many companies look at PV solar exclusively, which is a great sign because it shows sustainability concerns are growing. CITRUS knows how to translate its wider ecosystem to cater to the specific needs and heat requirements of industrial companies.

CITRUS implements a variety of services for customers in the industrial and commercial segments, such as solar solutions to generate heat and battery storage. It has strong engineering experience, which it uses to deliver turnkey energy-efficient projects.

Photo by:   CITRUS
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst