Coppel Aims for 50 Percent Solar Energy UseBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 06/09/2021 - 15:46
Coppel, one of Mexico´s major retailers landed a US$2 billion loan last week. Part of the company’s plans with this financing is to install solar panels on 50 percent of its stores. This renewable move highlights the potential that distributed generation (DG) solar installations have in Mexico, especially for commercial activity largely operating during daylight.
Culiacan, Sinaloa-based Coppel has around 1,600 department stores in Mexico. With the loan provided by BBVA, HSBC, Santander and Scotiabank, the company is on its way to refinancing its debt. The rest of the funding is aimed at opening and renovating stores, opening a software programming center, as well as enhancing logistical and customer service processes. Some of the main objectives Coppel has set for itself include boosting the number of women in leadership roles and increasing the amount of renewable solar energy the company uses within the next five years.
Coppel aims to install solar panels on 876 of its department stores. After this process is completed, Coppel wants to install solar on top of 19 out of its 23 warehouses, as well as to power all its 153 customer service centers. Once completed, roughly 50 percent of the company’s electricity use should be generated through renewable energy.
“This syndicated loan, linked to sustainability issues, is the largest in Mexico and Latin America,” said Antonio Suárez, Financial Director of the Coppel group. Suárez emphasized that the company had already received a similar loan but this time went for an even higher amount to foster the company’s sustainability.
Coppel’s strategy to incorporate more solar energy on its stores on a DG basis emphasizes the wider opportunity that exists in this area. Some of its major advantages are its insulation from regulatory changes and its proximity to where energy is used. Juan Carlos García de la Cadena, Founder and CEO of Beetmann, explained its benefits to MBN: “For many years, experts have said that the closer to the load center you generate electricity, the better it is because it reduces the potential for technical losses. DG is an optimal solution in this regard as it is located right next to the operation. In Mexico, the threshold for distributed generation is 0.5MW. This allows for a broad range of users to implement DG and we have seen interest rise significantly in recent years,” he said. With around 1GW of DG already installed in Mexico, not all of which is solar, the market promises to grow even further. Manuel Herrera, Director of the Mexican Association of the Photovoltaic Industry (AMIF) said that capacity could increase seven times over, up to 7GW.