Lilian Alves
Director of Strategic Planning
Mitsui Power Americas
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View from the Top

Clients Should Be Educated on Electricity Market’s Benefits

By Cas Biekmann | Thu, 03/18/2021 - 17:02

Q: How is Mitsui involved in the Mexican energy sector as a developer, power producer, O&M player and qualified supplier?

A: In 2020, Mitsui & Co. Power Americas celebrated its 10th anniversary. The company has been reinventing itself, adapting to the changing power market and the needs of its customers. It was first created to focus on the asset management of combined cycle assets. Understanding the market evolution, we have applied our knowledge and experience to new market segments. We’ve diversified into the acquisition and development of renewable assets as part of our global strategy and now we are involved in the development of on-site thermal and cogeneration solutions to C&I customers. Additionally, considering our experience in the management of more than 3GW of power assets, we are offering asset management and O&M services to other generators from thermal and renewable sources. Finally, the qualified supply became part of our strategy to integrate all of our solutions and offer competitive electricity supply and reliable alternatives to customers.

 

Q: How is the company adapting its strategic plans based on the shifting regulatory environment in the energy sector?

A: As a global trend, we believe that it is increasingly important to be focused on the downstream market. In 2020, we started the activities of MPA Suministro Calificado to attend the needs of new qualified users and support the migration of existing basic supply and self-supply customers. We believe that through qualified supply, clients can obtain solutions with lower costs that are tailored to their operations. Additionally, we see on-site solutions as an interesting opportunity for energy customers to have more control over their energy costs and more efficient and reliable solutions for their facilities.

 

Q: Despite challenges, where can Mitsui identify the biggest opportunities within this environment?

A: We look to provide tailor-made solutions for clients, as a one-stop shop. Within the volatile environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we see that more and more clients want to focus on their core business and Mitsui & Co. Power Americas wants to become a partner to help reduce and optimize our customers’ energy costs. We can do this through integrated solutions, which can be a combination of qualified supply, on-site generation and smart energy technologies.

 

Q: How would you evaluate your experiences with Mexico’s wholesale electricity market?

A: We see it from two viewpoints – as a generator and as a qualified supplier. As the second largest operator of power generation plants in Mexico, our interactions and sales in the wholesale electricity market have been significant. This has also been true lately as we finalize our solar plant in Zacatecas. We have also interacted with it as a service provider. Our portfolio of services in that regard include representing clients who are entering that wholesale electricity market.

As a qualified supplier, we see the increasing need for commercial and industrial clients to find integral energy solutions for their operations. We want to be much closer to what would be the market’s downstream segment; since last year we have been developing our distribution capabilities, and this amounts to a vote of confidence in the future of Mexico’s wholesale electricity market. We want to be a part of that future by helping companies see how their entry into this market and the migration of their contracts into its schemes can make their operations more efficient.

Particularly in the qualified supply market, we see an interesting evolution on customer’s behavior. Even though some may think that the growth of qualified users seem slow, it has to be compared to previous years. The growth rate has  increased greatly when you look at the first two years of the market (2016 and 2017), with a much more accelerated growth in each year after 2018. This is a process of change and restructuring that has taken up to 10 years in other countries, so in that sense this transition in Mexico has been much faster. Still, a lot of work remains to be done in terms of educating our clients regarding what Mexico’s wholesale electricity market can offer to them.

There are various options available for qualified users in the electricity market. The number of possibilities can be a bit dizzying, so we need to work to advise on an optimal solution.

 

Q: How is the company developing a technological platform to facilitate its many activities in the Mexican market?

A: Mitsui & Co. Power Americas has been a leading company in the developing of new platforms that improve the efficiency of its activities and customers. For instance, our O&M team has been working on Digital Solutions for power plants, which can be applied to early anomaly detection to improve availability of plants and maintenance optimization. We partner with companies such as SparkCognition and Osisoft to develop new solutions for generators and help improve their overall performance.

 

Q: What are the company’s priorities for 2021?

A: In 2021, our goal is to understand the needs and attend to the requirements of the final customer – this translates into providing the optimal resources for generators to improve the performance of their assets and offering power solutions for C&I electricity customers that help reduce their power costs. In the face of shifting dynamics in the power market and the world, it is important that clients have reliable partners during volatile times.

Mitsui & Co. Power Americas works to consolidate the energy industry to foster regional economic development. The company is the second-largest private operator in electric power generation, network and information resources, with a portfolio of six combined cycle plants, two wind farms and one solar farm.

Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst