DG Company Solves Solar’s Wider Sustainability PuzzleBy Cas Biekmann | Tue, 02/15/2022 - 17:01
Q: How has demand during the pandemic played out for the company, particularly with regulatory uncertainty around the electricity reform?
A: The government’s efforts to change energy regulation and the resulting uncertainty have only made things more complicated. In 2021, we experienced a great deal of interest in our solutions for distributed generation (DG). We continue to grow in residential and small commercial segments. In the commercial and industrial (C&I) environment, interest has increased but decision-making has been slowed down considerably. Greenlux has closed 3MW and has a pipeline of around 15MW but uncertainty has had the biggest impact here. In September, the government was about to make a decision on the electricity reform but then postponed that until March or April 2022. Regardless, we do not see the reform impacting DG. Clusters, chambers and associations are making a great effort to push DG. On the other side, SENER, CFE and the government have all confirmed that DG provides benefits and will remain unaffected. Once this has been fully confirmed, we can forge ahead with many projects. If the reform is canceled or passes in a way that is acceptable to the market, we think we can do well in 2022 and expand our pipeline. We would have around 8MW of probable projects and another 7MW that are less likely but still good prospects.
Q: What is the importance of clusters, association and industry chambers for the development of solar-based DG?
A: These organizations have many renowned, experienced professionals and experts among their ranks, which help to explain issues to political leaders. We work together to help the government understand the industry. They do not act in bad faith but could benefit from a deeper understanding of solar DG’s benefits. In general, we also believe that utility-scale renewable energy projects coming from private companies are a boon to Mexico’s competitiveness but they have similar channels to communicate these advantages. We, therefore, focus on our own environment. Greenlux itself is part of the Energy Cluster of Nuevo Leon, the Mexican Association of the Photovoltaic Industry (AMIF) and the National Chamber of the Energy Industry (PROCNIE). These associations help to spread the word of what solar can do for people. Nuevo Leon’s governor, Samuel García, presented a minister for energy matters. His idea of green taxes and bonds, supported by the cluster, have been replicated in other states, such as Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi. This has given sustainability measures a major boost, which is something every state government should aim to do.
Q: What role does the company’s water-saving Cleanlux solution play in the wider push for sustainability?
A: When solar panels are installed, they need to be cleaned or they will lose efficiency over time. In terms of maintenance, cleaning is the most frequent requirement. Depending on the location, this happens around three to 12 times a year. In that sense, using a lot of water decreases the sustainability of a solar system. Cleanlux helps solve this problem: by applying a protective photocatalytic layer of this solution, we recommend just one cleaning a year. With Cleanlux, ordinary rain helps to further clean the solar panels because of its hydrophilic properties, particularly for C&I systems with an already optimal inclination. This saves water but also reduces the amount of human effort. These installations are often placed on rooftops, so there is always some risk involved for the personnel who manually clean them. What is more, Cleanlux cleans the air around the solar panel, much like a tree cleans the air. A Cleanlux-coated solar panel cleans 36m3 per day. This adds a great deal of value for the environment.
Q: What are some of the financing options Greenlux offers its clients?
A: We provide a wide array of solutions. Options from banks allow users to deduct 30 percent of their investment. It is also possible to rent a solar system, which pays for itself in energy savings. Within 10 years, the user becomes owner of the system entirely. The savings are then passed onto the client. Many companies look to such options, although on-site power purchase agreements (PPAs) are attractive too. We then install solar panels on the client’s rooftop and retain ownership, selling energy at a lower cost than utilities can. No investment is needed and we take care of the operations and maintenance. We can tailor any projects and companies can make good use of the fiscal benefits associated with solar energy.
Q: How does Greenlux arrange operations and maintenance (O&M) for its clients?
A: A complete system is divided between several inverters, each linked to 40 and up to 100 solar modules. This divides the system in sections, which can be monitored remotely. There are daily generation reports that add up. Companies can also link this with consumption monitoring, so they know exactly how much they consume and generate at any given moment. Clients can choose to take care of O&M themselves, or sign an O&M contract that makes us their energy department. We then ensure the system’s performance for its entire life cycle, including cleaning and warranty checks. For the latter, we use drones and heatmapping. DG solar systems have many components exposed to the elements, so it pays to check the systems at least once a year.
Q: How is the company fostering partnerships to ensure its success in 2022?
A: We have 10 offices across the country serving over 1,500 clients and over 8MW installed. We have an alliance with Home Depot, where people can purchase our solar systems online or in stores. Regarding battery storage, we have partnered with Tesla, which is a leading company in that environment. Greenlux also is allied with Baywa, a renowned distributor.
Powered by these partnerships, we aim to install 15MW. For smaller commercial and residential users, we want to install around 6,000 solar panels. It should be a good year if the landscape remains positive. Unfortunately, not all new players in the market offer the same quality, so we will continue to distinguish ourselves by using the best technology and optimal installation. If a system lasts 25 years, it is worth the effort to invest in quality.
Greenlux is a Mexican company focused on the design and implementation of solar systems for the domestic and industrial segments.