Facts Do not Lie, We Need to Transition to a Greener SocietyBy José Jove | Fri, 09/04/2020 - 09:13
Despite all the theories as to why the government has chosen to turn its back on renewables, the reality is that there is no real way out of transitioning into them. The numbers don't lie and neither does the rising and troubling pollution generated by fossil fuels.
Mexico's energy market has been under scrutiny from the current administration, which claims “unfair” treatment of CFE; however, the truth of the matter is that CFE has not kept up with trends implemented all over the world that are focused on greener, more efficient and cheaper forms of generation, which in most cases qualify as renewables.
Whether companies decide to engage in the many schemes available to them in the market or decide to develop and build their own projects, the energy revolution is here to stay. Major efforts have been implemented throughout the industry with a clear path to engaging companies into becoming conscious about climate change and in turn, creating a better connection with their customers.
Energy consumption constitutes a major expense for companies. Being part of a platform that offers many alternative cost-reduction strategies related to this issue, I have seen a shift in focus: Not only have companies realized that energy efficiency translates into savings, they have recognized that showcasing themselves as green, or greener than their competitors, also wins business.
Mexico has been considered a key energy player in Latin America because of the commitments made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (22 percent by 2030) and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 200 million tons annually, no small task by any means.
So, how do we get there? Even with the federal government's lack of real push for a renewable energy transition, many of the existing schemes may be implemented by taking small steps toward a greener future. Small steps also count when targets seem unreachable, for energy specifically and in the solar niche, the distributed generation rules give companies a viable solution to reduce energy costs, obtain clean energy certificates and as an indirect benefit, showcase themselves as GREEN. A report issued by CRE in June of this year shows nearly 1GW of projects in the > 500kW threshold (80 percent was installed between 2017 and 2019), a clear sign of the potential of DG solar in the quest to reach international commitments.
The good news is that the so-called millennials are very sustainable-oriented. Trends have demonstrated their commitment to implementing actions to prevent climate change, among other goals. Sustainable business practices will be part (are already?) of everyday life: monitoring energy consumption, water use and gas emissions, among other things.
Mexico is a manufacturing country by definition. We have a vast number of local and international companies established here for more than 25 years (in large part due to the original NAFTA) and in most cases they already have in place a policy focusing on sustainability. I myself began seeing the change in the late 2000s. I had been out of college for five to six years and had been working non-stop as a project manager for various companies. Energy had always interested me. As a chemical engineer, I learned about the basics but there was never a specific course for renewable energy. My first contact with it came when I took a look at the spending curve of the company I was working for at the time and quickly realized that our energy bill constituted the second-biggest expenditure after salaries and that we had done nothing about it since the company started operations. By doing a little bit of research, I came across a small batch of equipment providers and installers that claimed they could reduce your energy bill by simply installing solar panels. The idea and concept seemed simple enough so I gave it a try. Little did I know that decision would change my life forever. I was hooked.
Solar energy became my professional life. The connection I had with the technology made me realize I wanted to this for a living and that I wanted to bring solar energy to as many companies as possible in Mexico. The first job I got was with Yingli Solar. At that time, Yingli was the No. 1 solar panel manufacturer in the world and I was keen to prove that Mexico, and Latin America in general, would become the new leader in solar power. Latin America has come a long way after all this time and countries like Brazil, Chile and Mexico have constantly held the leadership in implementing suitable energy policies; Honduras, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador at some point had very positive schemes for utility scale; Colombia now has very attractive policies, and so on.
The present and near future in this region for renewables is very bright. I anticipate more and more countries and companies will be focusing on making sustainability part of their daily life.