Álvaro del Río
Country Manager
Martifer Solar
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View from the Top

At the forefront of the Mexican Solar Reality

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 12:04

Q: Which role does Mexico play in Martifer’s global operations?

A: We internationalized very quickly and the company experienced a significant growth even though we were late to enter the renewable energy market. We learned from the mistakes of some of our competitors which had very big structures in place. We have very little physical presence in the countries where Martifer is operating but we have a very strong back office in Portugal that gives us an important competitive advantage.

When we entered the Mexican market in 2011, everyone was just starting out and wanted to develop projects. Now, thanks to the government and the support it has begun giving the industry, we have the possibility of developing power plants under the small producer scheme. I hope that the industry will receive more support from future regulation because Mexico will become the market to be in for the solar industry.

Q: How did you manage to bring your global expertise and adapt it to the local needs of this country?

A: We are now finishing the Aura Solar I project where we found that the Mexican labor force is very skilled and able to deliver a very high quality of work. Companies in Mexico are very serious and foreigners have to be aware of this. Sometimes, people from the US or from Europe are afraid of coming to Mexico to work or build projects because they do not know how the market works and underestimate the capabilities of Mexican companies. For us, working with Mexican companies has been a very good experience, and Mexican technicians have very strong knowhow in general.

A very strong solar sector will be created in Mexico because people here are capable of contributing to its growth and success.

Q: What makes Martifer’s value proposition unique?

A: We have the global expertise of installing 400MW, not many companies can say that. We can build projects in record time and we have the experience of working in new markets since we have cooperated with 18 different utility companies. We are now market leaders by virtue of having constructed the biggest project in the country. It is also important that the company has gained a lot of experience thanks to this project and the developers have noticed that. Mexico is not an easy market, we know that after two years working here.

Q: What convinced the financial system, specifically NAFINSA, to finance the Aura Solar project?

A: What the banks should do is look at what the IFC did. NAFINSA is part of this project and they financed part of our debt but other banks should follow the IFC’s example. It has high expectations and confidence in renewables and in the country. Solar technology is not new worldwide, but it is in Mexico. The efficiency of panels is increasing while prices have decreased significantly; we are almost reaching the minimum limit which helps us to offer stable prices. The financial sector must take these facts into account and understand that the solar industry is here to stay.

Q: For how long do you expect to remain market leaders in the Mexican solar market?

A: Martifer is very well-placed to keep its position as a market leader and has all the capabilities to remain there. We are starting new projects in late 2013 and early 2014. The projects will be developed in northern Mexico. We have a 20MW project in Hermosillo, Sonora, and we are looking for new opportunities in Chihuahua and Coahuila. Mexico now represents 10% of Martifer’s global operations. If we continue working in this market at the same pace, Mexico may become the most important market for Martifer.

I would like to see Mexico develop 5GW of solar power in the next 10 years, which is similar to what Spain has developed. We hope that Martifer will be an important contributor and play a significant part in that new solar power generation capacity. We also would like to be a development leader since Martifer is able to work on both development and EPC.