Santiago Desentis
Country Manager Latin America
View from the Top

Data Management, the Key to Efficient Operations

Tue, 02/11/2020 - 14:20

Q: What is the main added value you offer to the energy industry?

A: Our main added value is our ability to offer end-to-end solutions in monitoring systems through our PowerTrack platform. It integrates software and hardware components that make up an integral monitoring solution and showcases our biggest added value. The platform was built to provide our clients with the best user experience, drawing on AlsoEnergy’s own experience from the 22,000 sites it monitors, representing an aggregate 18GW of installed capacity. It is 100-percent customizable and user-friendly. It easily adapts to a wide variety of systems and can be used by a broad range of users, from investors to electricians in charge of O&M, enabling us to land a solid foothold in a variety of energy market niches. Our platform is energy agnostic, meaning it can work with virtually any powerproducing technology and is adaptable to a wide array of power inverters, PV trackers, weather stations and plant controllers. We make a point of developing both in-house or subcontracted software with no particular license to make good on this versatility.
A monitoring platform should not be seen as an additional investment but as a long-term savings strategy. The information that is being generated through a solar plant is massive. It is important to take advantage of this data to better understand the project and operations. This is particularly essential in a growing and competitive region such as Mexico and its nascent open market. It helps improve not only the operation of a plant but also the contracts, services and solutions that the company is offering to the industry.
AlsoEnergy is building the operating system for the grid of the future. We promote greater operational efficiency for energy professionals with a complete line of products and a comprehensive software platform, enabling our clients to save time and reduce costs while delivering optimized generation.
Integrated product packages from AlsoEnergy combine easy-to-install hardware and professional services with our advanced PowerTrack software to create end-to-end solutions for our clients. Our scalable solutions range from small commercial to utility scale, and may be used for monitoring and control of solar PV, wind, energy storage, and more. We offer specialized applications for a variety of user needs including PowerTrack Web, PowerTrack Mobile, and locally hosted software solutions.
PowerTrack enables users to streamline business processes in a single enterprise platform. Clients use PowerTrack for a huge range of needs including performance analytics, diagnostics, KPI displays, alerts, reports, invoicing, asset management, SCADA control dashboards, and CMMS job ticketing. We also provide services to integrate PowerTrack with software programs already being used by our clients, such as Salesforce.
Acquisitions are another avenue through which we can offer an added value to clients. On July 16, 2018, AlsoEnergy announced the successful conclusion of its merger with Skytron Energy, a Germany-based leader in PV software and hardware. This was in addition to the acquisition of select assets of Draker Corporation, a pioneering company in PV monitoring. Both acquisitions place AlsoEnergy at the forefront of renewable energy monitoring services, considering the end result is the creation of a global leader with more than 18GW of PV, wind and energy storage assets under management. It will allow AlsoEnergy to provide the most complete platform in renewable energy asset management, control and monitoring solutions, and it provides standardized products and support for clients with international portfolios.
Q: How is AlsoEnergy taking advantage of the opportunities that the Reform has made available to the sector?

A: The core business of our company is rooted in solar energy and that has taken us to other technologies such as wind. We mostly serve commercial and industrial companies as well as utility-scale projects ranging upward of 100MW of installed capacity. We have grown considerably from collaborating in solar projects that were between 5MW and 50MW to projects of 100MW. Our technology and experience allow us to provide a multi project technology and provide a portfolio aggregation.
Our company has a presence in over 40 countries and each region we enter implies a different set of rules that need to be applied. We believe that Mexico has big opportunities available because the market is just starting to develop and our monitoring platform can provide a great deal of insight into the wellbeing of its energy industry and its future performance.
Monitoring is an important component in asset management due all the information and savings it can provide. Companies with a growing power generation portfolio should invest more in these systems to keep all their projects in check. It is also a good way to cut O&M costs. As the era of government control subsidies ends in Mexico’s energy market, there will be a growing demand for energy sources with stable supply and cost. There are great opportunities here now for investment in renewable energy.
As portfolios grow, the cost of inefficient operations grows. As the Mexican market grows and consolidates, companies with efficient operations will have a great competitive advantage. For this reason, a monitoring platform should not be seen as an additional investment but as a long-term savings strategy. PowerTrack software provides a huge range of features to improve operational efficiency. We have a proven record for helping clients meet their business challenges. As a result, GTM Research has ranked AlsoEnergy as the No. 1 independent solar monitoring provider in the US commercial market for the past 4 years in a row.
In the Mexican energy market, now is the time to standardize on AlsoEnergy technology solutions. Companies who adapt early to a standardized platform will enjoy efficient operations and increased asset availability. It will be easier to grow portfolios and operations with clearly defined workflows and well-established systems for communication. AlsoEnergy can help Mexican companies take full advantage of this moment to position themselves for success and future growth.
Q: What challenges does the industry face when it comes to data management?

A: It can be hard to maintain control of information in the industry if each company has a different system for data management. Our interactions with the market in general and financial entities in particular, such as development banks, show that norms do not require a monitoring system from suppliers, although this means that it can be difficult to keep track of 10 different companies when each one is sharing data in different ways. It makes it challenging to control the project. Working with a single true source of data facilitates administrative and operational matters It can help prevent problems and facilitate the creation of contracts. This would give investors an easy way to access data whenever there is miscommunication. Having a standardized way of managing data makes operations better and allows companies to make faster decisions.
We are talking with CENACE about the standardization of SCADA technologies but we understand that it prefers to make these types of agreements through associations. It is a way to make sure its decisions reflect the majority and not just the interests of a particular company. We understand CENACE’s focus is centered on Mexico’s electricity grid and making sure the country’s new renewable energy projects reach interconnection phase, but it has manifested interest in reinforcing standardizing efforts for power production monitoring.

Q: What strategies is the company using to minimize the energy industry’s learning curve when it comes to data management?

A: This is one of the biggest challenges that not only the company faces but also the country in general. Mexico is not used to seeking its own suppliers as it used to solely depend on CFE. We can educate clients on the best way to maneuver through these changes. We seek to be a platform where companies can see results in real time. Also, Energy offers an introductory demonstration where clients can interact with the platform and see for themselves all the benefits it offers.
Big Data is a concept that is still being developed in the industry but it will be extremely important in the near future. The most important thing is to understand the means to best calculate the true costs of the product. We are working on our business intelligence to provide even more solutions to the client. AlsoEnergy provides extensive resources for training and support. We are available seven days a week, and we offer helpful support features that include appointment-based support and prioritized support for technicians in the field. We offer a well-organized program for client onboarding, along with access to a large library of training videos and documentation.
Customization is another important element for customer success. AlsoEnergy works with each client to understand their internal processes, then we configure the PowerTrack platform to meet each company’s needs. Customization makes data management intuitive for users with configurations such as user permissions, KPI dashboards and automated reports.

AlsoEnergy provides technology solutions for energy production assets, focused on solar PV. Its solutions range from standardized DAS systems to custom-designed SCADA systems, with services to integrate generation assets in its PowerTrack platform.