Distributed Generation Future for Mexican Solar ManufacturerBy Cas Biekmann | Thu, 05/28/2020 - 09:13
Q: How has Enersis evolved in Mexico and how did the brand name come about?
A: Enersis began its operations in 2017, focusing on utility-scale renewables development. However, when the government shifted its energy priorities, these projects became less attractive and we stopped pursuing them. As a result, in January 2019, the company took the decision to acquire Solartec’s factory and its brand. This transaction was funded by the DaVinci fund, to which Enersis belongs. The company now manufactures and commercializes solar panels, but it does not develop solar projects. After the purchase, the company shifted its focus to distributed generation, which is a very attractive market. With distributed generation, everything is integrated, from domestic PV-panels to 0.5MW parks. This number is the legal limit, so we do not have to involve CRE or CENACE.
Q: How is the company involved in Mexico’s renewables sector and what are some success stories?
A: We are part of AMFEF and ANES and we have intentions of joining ASOLMEX. We are a Mexican company that manufactures solar panels, so joining these organizations is important for our development in the sector. Also, by purchasing the Solartec brand name, we also acquired its successful history in distributed generation. Last year, we fully supplied a project of 0.5GW in the Parque Ambiental Bicentenario in Metepec. As far as volumes go, the company focuses on spreading out our projects to maximize margins. This means that we prefer to have 1000 smaller projects than one giant project with small margins. Therefore, our target ranges from 5KW to 500KW.
Q: What added values does Enersis offer its clients?
A: Our panels are certified with all applicable national and international standards. We invest in Mexican laboratories to boost development, such as LAPEM. Having official Mexican norms (NOMs) can prevent products of lesser quality from entering the market, so we adhere to these standards as well. Local service is another important added value. Our clients can rest assured that if they have an issue with their panels, even many years after, they can ask for our support in Mexico without having to contact a company in China. Our technical support department is robust, and our engineers provide support free of charge.
Furthermore, the company boasts an ANCE-certified training center, with the purpose of training people to install solar panels. This came about for a reason. Some years ago, we started receiving calls about our warranty. When we analyzed the panels in each case, we noticed that they were technically spotless. Instead, the client had installed the panel improperly. We came to the conclusion that the correct installation was crucial. Through our training course, those who pass the exam become certified installers of solar panels. The three-day course is intensive and assures us that we are now selling panels to qualified people.
Another added value we offer our clients are financing options. For instance, our Elite Integrators have access to CiBanco’s preferential rate.
Q: How will COVID-19 affect your position in Mexico’s solar energy market?
A: Due to COVID-19, people will start buying more products made in Mexico. We are already seeing a trend toward nationalism worldwide, as people realize the need to support their own economic recovery. The government can help promote the consumption of national products and services, not through taxation of imports, but by spreading positive made in Mexico messages and maintaining a level playing field by recognizing the effort Mexican companies have made and the jobs they create.
Q: What are the company’s forecasts for distributed generation and what can the government do to boost the industry?
A: We expect that distributed generation will grow quite a bit, due to the increased need for energy savings. This will include the domestic sector as well. We think the sector will reactivate, along with other government projects. Survival is more important than development. Once we overcome this pandemic, we can move forward again.
There is no doubt that increasing the limit from 500KW to 1MW will make distributed generation even more agile. Collective distributed generation is a controversial topic, but it is already gaining ground. Once certain regulatory points are addressed and improved, then distributed generation could become a player in Mexico’s energy mix. The government should focus on facilitating this process, although businesses should not wait until the government decides to fix these issues. By setting clear rules for the sector and establishing a smooth process, the government can make significant contributions without doing anything out of the ordinary.
Q: What technologies does Enersis use to ensure its panels work optimally and how does R&D factor into the company’s portfolio?
A: We have an R&D department that is in tune with developments from all around the world and we are working to bring these to Mexico. This department is essential for the development of businesses. If companies do not follow the latest technologies, they will be left out of the competition and lose opportunities. It is important for us to be at the vanguard of development and offer technology that the market needs and is willing to pay for.
However, we cannot afford to offer every solution available to the market because for us to adapt new production methods we need to be certain that it will sell in large volumes. We offer three standards that are among the most popular in the market: 72-cell polycrystalline panels with 345W, monocrystalline PERC panels, around 380-390W and half-cut cells reaching 400-410W. We can deliver a pallet of 30 within three to five days. We can offer translucent panels as well, for instance, but only for special orders of over 1000 pieces.
Q: How is Enersis participating in Mexico City’s Ciudad Solar program?
A: It is a very interesting project that is led by Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City’s mayor. Sheinbaum is a renowned doctor in energy engineering. We are participating in this project with Dr. Valdez’s team, along with many other producers. The project specifies that all panels have to be made in Mexico. We hope that the project provides definite solutions regarding financing as well, paving the way for solar energy once this pandemic goes away.
Q: What are the main objectives for the company toward the end of 2020?
A: Despite COVID-19, I am optimistic. I think that companies in the market will start a process of consolidation. This is because for some companies, not selling for one month means their demise, but the sector in itself will survive. Distributed generation, especially, will continue its march forward. Mexico’s population is becoming more conscious of the importance of renewable energy. Companies are now looking into alternatives to generate energy savings. Before, solar panel sales were driven by people wanting to save the planet, regardless of costs. Today, solar panels are accessible products that save people a lot of money. Therefore, I am confident this year will end on a positive note despite the tough months ahead brought on by the pandemic. The sun always rises at no cost, and it will keep doing so for millions of years to come.
Enersis is a Mexican manufacturer of solar panels. The company focuses on supplying small-scale projects toward distributed generation and boasts its own licensed training courses for installation.