Massimo Ferrarini
Director
Jema Energy Mexico
/
Insight

Diversify and Conquer

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 18:31

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, wants to solve renewable energy’s intermittency issue through an energy storage system that employs salt. Tesla is building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage system in Southern Australia. Siemens is developing energy storage solutions in Mexico. Dutch startup Physee developed PV PowerWindows, that are capable of generating electricity by installing them as building facades.

These are but a few examples of how technology and research have become indispensable allies in rendering renewable energy sources a viable solution in power generation, on par with conventional energy sources. But technology is as unpredictable as it is useful.

One of renewable energy’s main challenges lies in becoming a stable, cost-effective and predictable source of electric power. Developers of highly technological and innovative solutions know this well. In Jema Energy’s case, the company wants to capitalize on its 60 years of experience and its specialized laboratories to develop value-added PV power-generation solutions, including solar inverters and energy-storage systems for the industrial sector.

“Wind, solar, hydroelectric, energy storage and conventional power generation have to compensate for peak electric demand, integrate an up-to-par supply-and-demand monitoring system and be able to supply electricity during critical demand periods,” says Massimo Ferrarini, Director of Jema Energy Mexico. The company manufactures and supplies power electronics solutions for highly demanding technological heavyweights like Nuclear Fusion Laboratories in California, Geneva’s CERN and NASA. In Mexico, Jema Energy has supplied top-tier equipment for more than 30 power-generation projects, both for combined-cycle installations, such as the Agua Prieta plant, Empalme I and Empalme II plants, as well as for industrial PV projects and pilot energy storage systems.

Mexico is a natural market for Jema Energy as it is the country where the company has the most business outside of Europe. Its experience here started 18 years ago, capitalizing on the derivable potential opportunities created before the Energy Reform and the sector’s inherent transformations resulting from the long-term electricity auctions, PPAs and the modification of legacy contracts. The company is also confident in its ability to provide technological solutions, assisting with the injection of renewable-energy generation into an electric grid capable of receiving it, while efficiently managing and distributing the additional electric capacity.

“Batteries are the talk of the town in renewable energy. Yet, there are other storage technologies under development. Jema is testing flywheel, supercapacitor and fuel-cell systems,” Ferrarini says. The company tests the impact of different energy sources and storage solutions in iSARE, a pilot smart grid, based in San Sebastian, Spain, that is aiming to develop large-scale versions of technologies that show promising results. “There are at least 25 scenarios for technological developments that we have identified. We want to integrate a cohesive and diversified technological portfolio of renewable energy applications with solutions that can coexist in the electric grid,” he adds. Jema Energy places a particular importance on its 360-degree vision when it comes to technological innovations with largescale potential, high-power capacity and high precision that make them applicable to the electric vehicle sector.

Ferrarini agrees that batteries are a proven technology, with an extensive track record in research and product improvement. The window of opportunity for batteries in energy-storage applications is quite large, not only because of market trends but also because of the increasing demands of final customers to reduce electric consumption. In Mexico, battery-powered energy storage solutions exist but they have yet to become mainstream enough to develop a local battery-component market.

Jema Energy’s objectives in Mexico are threefold: first, implementing large-scale renewable energy projects, with a particular focus on solar energy. Second, providing innovative energy-storage solutions. Third, developing large-scale applications to improve electric infrastructure and electric-grid efficiency