Daniel Sepúlveda
Director General
Soluciones Energéticas de México (SEM)
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View from the Top

E-Financing for PV Systems

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 12:55

Q: What makes SEM’s proposal unique for Mexico’s PV market?

A: SEM started out as a PV system inspection company for private clients. As demand for our services increased, we noticed a financing gap that we thought we could fill as a common denominator for all PV projects and solar companies. We created an investment fund specialized in financing solar energy projects for distributed generation applications. This new development led us to where we are now, installing PV systems on one hand and financing them on the other. We offer a seamless energy transition with no bureaucratic hindrances and no costly initial investments. For our investors, we offer higher ROIs compared to traditional investment funds.

SEM makes a point of maintaining optimal balance between quality, price and performance, as well as providing competitive long-term warranties. Ideally, we would like to further incentivize our local economy in the long term, particularly local solar panel manufacturing. We are flexible enough to integrate local and foreign components to ensure optimal balance.

Q: How did you come up with your e-financing platform?

A: The rising demand for PV systems under a distributed generation scheme was paired with interest from individuals in investing in this technology, but there was no tool available to those investors. Our need to finance our PV systems coupled with investor interest created the perfect storm. We integrated this investment platform into our website both as an additional service within our portfolio and as a source of capital.

Our biggest challenge to date was obtaining financing. Now that we have that covered we can look at building alliances with investment funds or other financial entities, creating an additional push for our business portfolio. Greater financing also means increasing our business standards, integrating due diligence, due processes and mitigating risk.

Q: How involved must SEM’s clients be when transitioning to renewable energy?

A: SEM’s advantage is that we require minimal involvement from our clients. The only thing we need is for them to provide us with their electric bill and the usual official documents, on which we base our energy consumption analysis. We assess the environmental surroundings of our clients' locations and evaluate solar irradiation levels, as well as our clients' credit record. Once we gather all that data, we can determine if the project is viable, adding it to our project portfolio and creating an investment portfolio once the job gets the green light. SEM conducts all dealings with CFE, obtains all relevant parts and equipment for the installation of the system and ensures all warranties and insurance, as well as maintenance operations and obtaining financing when necessary.

Q: How has Sinaloa’s local government fostered the growth of solar energy?

A: SEM has the local government’s support in incentivizing Sinaloa’s PV market. Sinaloa adheres to the UN-Habitat 2030 Agenda for sustainable urban development, in which solar energy is taking an increasingly major role, raising awareness about the benefits of transitioning to this technology. One of SEM’s midterm objectives is to place Sinaloa among the regional leaders in solar energy nationwide.

Q: How is SEM approaching SMEs in Sinaloa?

A: SEM’s commercial strategy focuses on SMEs, whose electric tariff is among the highest in Mexico compared to low-consumption domestic tariffs. We believe the best way to showcase our technology is to have it operating in commercial establishments. Persuading potential clients that installing PV is no longer a luxury but an investment is part of our work. For the agricultural sector, one of our targeted niches, we have been working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development (SAGARPA) and NAFIN to assist farmers, offering our financial schemes and consulting services to those who are interested in transitioning to solar.