Santiago Desentis
Former Country Manager
Yingli Solar Mexico
View from the Top

Flashy Solar Projects Arrive on Mexico's Doorstep

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 13:30

Q: How close has Yingli Solar come to reaching last year’s goal of a 15% gain in Mexican market share by 2015?

A: We anticipate achieving a 15% market share in Mexico’s distributed generation (DG) market segment, in which we expect to grow between 80-100% per year over the coming years. Mexico’s utility market is also showing potential but, due to the Energy Reform’s slow evolution and implementation, reaching our market share goals in this segment has been more challenging. While the companies involved in this market remain interested, a large amount of projects are in the pipeline and on standby while they wait for more clearly defined regulations to be announced. Even though we will be ready for those opportunities when they materialize, our internal resources are currently aimed at increasing market share in the DG segment. We are currently targeting many projects with PPAs and self- supply schemes, which are both viable during this period of uncertainty. The rules of the game are still undefined, but the Energy Reform has certainly succeeded in opening up the market significantly. As the world’s leading solar PV manufacturer, Yingli is familiar with market uncertainty. We have experienced this in almost every market we have entered to date, including the US, Australia, and many more. Despite uncertainties, the company has continued to thrive in these regions by retaining its flexibility and adapting to the needs of the market.

Q: Which projects constitute your Mexican portfolio, and which of those was the breakthrough project that consolidated Yingli’s presence and reputation in the country?

A: We are proud of our success in the DG market segment, which has been responsible for the bulk of Yingli’s sales in Mexico to date. Our panels can be found on the rooftops of businesses such as Mexifrutas in San Cayetano, Nayarit, schools such as the Colegio Sagrado Corazon México in El Pedregal, Mexico City, and hundreds of homes and small businesses throughout the country. The flagship project that contributed to the consolidation of Yingli in Mexico was a 1.5MW system at a Soriana store. Our partner in this project was Ilioss Soluciones Sustentables, a Mexican EPC provider who is very active in the DG market. As is often the case, we became involved in the project in its early stages and provided local support to our partner throughout the development.

Q: What criteria does Yingli Solar use to select the right projects and what help do you provide your partners in terms of financing?

A: We are selective when choosing our partners, as we believe that the individuals involved in each project have the greatest impact on its success or failure. Our first step is to gauge their level of experience in the market, and then we determine if all the necessary elements are in place for the project to succeed, including financing and EPC services. When we believe that the project and our partner both have a high possibility of success, we act as an intermediary, connecting our partner to financing opportunities and permitting entities. Our goal is to create synergies within the sector. As an example of this, in September 2014 we held a customer summit and invited all the local industry stakeholders. These included balance- of-systems manufacturers, financing institutions, EPCs, and project developers. The summit was designed to help our customers and partners generate new opportunities and develop the relationships they needed in order to grow their businesses.

Q: To what extent did Yingli’s World Cup sponsorship impact business opportunities in Mexico?

A: As the most-watched sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup provided us with exposure and brand awareness that otherwise would not have been attainable. Our sponsorship allowed us to make a bigger impact on the awareness of solar energy than any other sponsorship could, helping to drive business for Yingli and for our partners in the industry. As a FIFA partner, Yingli Solar can announce with confidence that it is a world-class brand, as its name is more broadly recognized than ever before. Global solar companies are eager to partner up with industry-leading suppliers, but they have been restricted by their limited exposure to companies like ours. Thanks to the World Cup, the company has been able to quickly and effectively establish its brand in emerging solar markets, including Mexico. We are committed to helping the solar industry’s growth in Mexico and we will continue supporting our partners throughout this uncertain period.