Connecting the DotsWed, 02/21/2018 - 16:29
Q: How are German technologies integrated into the Mexican market?
A: The German industry for renewables has mainly focused on high-tech but because this takes place behind the scenes, people are less familiar with our participation. In the case of wind, Spanish companies have dominated the Mexican market because it is a natural industry for them to exploit. The housing crisis in Spain made it very attractive for Spanish construction companies to pull their capital from Spain and invest in the Mexican wind market. However, there are two clear examples of German presence in Mexico: Siemen’s turbines and BASF’s chemical additives. With Siemens’ purchase of Gamesa, there is now a strong and visible German company actively participating in the Mexican wind market.
As for solar, the development and commercialization of German technologies have relied heavily on government subsidies. The use of subsidies to spur rapid market growth was good in the beginning but as these companies grew accustomed to a subsidized market, they became less competitive and could not fight in a world with nonsubsidized competitors. Also, the competitive value for German solar technologies is focused on getting the most out of the least, because in Germany we have very little of this resource. Mexico, however, is much richer in this regard, which makes our solutions mainly viable for very specific applications in Mexico.
When Germany decided to phase out nuclear energy the need for renewable energies increased the number of solar and wind projects that had to be developed, which put pressure on the market because it needed time to adapt to this transition. German project developers had to focus their activities inside the country only to meet the new demand. Furthermore, as renewable projects in the north of Germany increased, our transmission lines became unable to cope with transporting all the renewable energy from the generation plants in the north to the consumption units in the south. With this high demand to address at home, there was less need for German companies to find opportunities abroad.
Q: What is CAMEXA’s role in the renewable industry in Mexico?
A: Our goal as a commercial chamber is to facilitate the entrance of small and medium German companies into the Mexican market. One of our programs is called Solar Payback, which fosters investment in thermal-solar technologies to generate strong opportunities in the industry. This program has been developed in cooperation with ANES, the German Solar Industry Association and the Frauenhofer Institute. The project started in February 2017 and by July 2017 we already had candidates in the pre-qualification stage. The qualified companies will receive advisory services from the Frauenhofer Institute to implement solar-thermal technology in their industrial processes.
Another initiative in this context that we are developing together with, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), is focused on mapping Mexico’s heat demand. This will also support the future implementation of the Solar Payback program but the map has turned out to be a challenge. Companies do not easily share their information so we are looking for alternatives, such as using natural gas consumption, which is related to heat production.
Another joint effort with GIZ and CONUEE is the Energy Efficiency Learning Networks program. In July 2017, we launched this program with Bosch. During the next 12 months CAMEXA, AMEXGEN and Bosch will create a learning network across all its plants to implement energy efficiency systems. The goal is for each of Bosch’s plants to benefit from this program and to implement energy efficiency systems as well as to certify the responsible employees as energy managers. Once the network is up and running at Bosch, our plan is to take it to several companies, preferably six to 10, that can benefit from each other’s best practices. Ideally, we would like to implement the program in cooperation between German and Mexican companies.