STORY INLINE POST
An energy audit aims to evaluate the existing energy consumption of a company or household and identify potential energy savings. “Though Mexico still has not implemented audits to certify energy efficient companies, many companies seeking to lower production costs are turning to this tool in an effort to lower their energy consumption,“ says Rodrigo Güelfo Suárez, the General Manager of Natural Project, a Spanish company that introduced energy audits to the Mexican market in 2011. The company acquired vast experience in the Spanish renewables market and hopes to apply this in Mexico, confident that its expertise provides an added value that many local companies are lacking. “What seems innovative in Mexico is not so to us. We have proved the efficiency of these technologies. Currently, a combination of financial and political interests might be slowing down the development of these technologies, but this is the future,” he underlines. He explains this concept is currently geared toward big energy consumers. “A company that has a factory with many working motors, special lighting, and boilers requires the involvement of specialized staff to analyze the situation. With that, we provide a report, through which we offer different energy solutions and a budget for how these could be implemented,” he adds. Through an energy audit, a consumer can save millions of pesos just by reducing its energy consumption by 10%.
Güelfo Suárez claims that companies like the numbers when they see them. Natural Project has been successful since Mexico does not have many companies that offer energy audits. He adds that, the company saw huge demand for its audits at the Green Expo not only from companies but also from architects seeking how to incorporate energy efficiency technology into their projects. Natural Project’s business model is not limited to just one sector. When it provides a solution, the company seeks to offer the most adequate solution, whether in solar, biomass, wind or LED lighting. “We can offer our clients a solution across various renewable sources. Mexico still has a long way to go, as there are some technologies out there that are not yet known in the country, but they will be used more in the future,” Güelfo Suárez adds. The Mexican market has shown interest in what Natural Project has to offer. “We provide something different because we do not just sell products, we provide solutions to problems,” explains Güelfo Suárez.
Natural Project is one of the few companies that includes geothermal in its portfolio. Güelfo Suárez explains that even though there is always solar irradiation, its intensity can vary from day to day, while geothermal depends on the temperature of the soil, which remains constant. “We can provide water at the same temperature, whatever the weather. With an inverter, geothermal can also provide heating or cooling,” he says. Of course, the issue is that geothermal does not produce electricity at a residential level. “The required investment for solar energy is lower, so people prefer it because they often focus only on the initial investment. A solar installation might cost US$5,000 as opposed to $US20,000-30,000 for geothermal, but a geothermal installation has a longer lifespan and is more efficient, which will pay back the initial investment,” he states.
What could be a good step for the Mexican market to continue growing? Güelfo Suárez believes it would be interesting to see communities generating small amounts of energy and argues the government could use such projects, which do not require a lot of investment. He cites the Spanish experience, in which big corporations were allowed to come and buy vast tracts of land and install huge amounts of solar panels. He argues that “it is more profitable to help communities that could produce energy for their own use with small panels. This is more interesting than a large production in terms of megawatts, which is the mistake that happened in Spain.”
As the Mexican renewable market moves forward, Natural Project will try to collaborate with the public sector, and particularly with PEMEX, to whom the firm is offering its solutions to make the state-owned company’s facilities greener. Güelfo Suárez explains he would like to work with bigger companies to establish and improve Natural Project’s reputation in Mexico for good. The company’s General Manager would also like to see biomass developed in the country as he believes it could prove to be very profitable. “For us, it would be interesting to find a biomass producer in Mexico because that would allow us to start selling our equipment. There are a lot of things to do. We have been here for a very short time but we have big expectations,” he adds.