Diego Vélez
Head of Energy Division
Mextypsa
/
View from the Top

Global Engineering Skill Supports Mexico’s Energy Development

By María José Goytia | Mon, 05/16/2022 - 14:17

Q: What were the biggest challenges the company overcame in 2021?

A: The energy business, particularly that of renewables, has completely stalled in Mexico in the past two years. Regulatory uncertainty has hindered the projects that we had in development while some others that were approaching the construction phase were halted. Our engineering services are not limited to Mexico, however. Supported by the international Typsa group, Mextypsa could engineer a project in North America, South America, Asia or Europe. Although it was a challenge to use all the professional talent and knowledge that we had acquired over the years and put it to work internationally, we did not have to reduce our workforce and even continued hiring during the past two years.

 

Q: What added value does the company bring to the table?

A: A company might have a particular project in mind that they are looking to bring to fruition. However, since they only have a limited reach, it is unlikely that they will have extended in-house design expertise. By contrast, we would have most certainly already come across that specific issue in the past, due to the scope and the sheer number of projects we cover annually in different countries around the world. This puts us in a very solid position to proffer advice and provide highest quality consulting and engineering services.

As an engineering and design firm, we need to create a bond with our customer and understand their needs. Only then we can deliver.  Mextypsa’s scope of work is not just limited to energy; we provide services for a range of infrastructure projects, including urban development, water and transportation, which includes railways, airports and ports. We have over 300 in-house engineers specializing all types of disciplines. This means we are a one-stop shop for customers. Another differentiator from our competitors is that we are well-established in Mexico, for over 13 years already. Mextypsa has all the benefits from a large multinational firm but remains a Mexican company containing the local knowhow and culture.

Finally, we are an employee-owned company not beholden by larger corporations. We sell engineering excellence and technical expertise and we are proud to have this independence.

 

Q: How is Mexico’s energy regulatory environment affecting Mextypsa’s current and future renewable power projects?

A: The new constitutional reform failed to pass through Congress. However, we need to see how the legal details play out over the next few months before reaching conclusions. If I am not mistaken, there are over 200 applications for amparo against the LIE (Electric Industry Law).

Nevertheless, Mexico´s growing demand requires new power plants to be built. We see a few developments moving forward but not what is expected for an economy the scale of Mexico. As soon as the country is able to provide that much needed legal certainty, we hope to see many of those halted projects come back alive.

The latest events happening around the world have emphasized the importance of having a diverse and well-balanced energy mix with room for both private sector and public stakeholders.

 

Q: How does the company assess the environment for greenfield developments specifically?

A: Mextypsa provides Engineering and consulting support to some of the biggest international developers and private power producers´s in the industry. Some of these companies have not stopped looking for greenfield developments. They look at the locations and analyze interconnection options. If anything, such work might have even increased in recent years.

Getting Mextypsa involved in the early stages of the project allows us not only to optimize project design but also to identify and mitigate potential risks. This will ultimately save a lot of money during construction and operation. Hiring quality engineering services should be considered an investment rather than an expense.

Despite the regulation uncertainty, we see a great deal of solar activity, especially in the Yucatan Peninsula, the Sonora desert and Baja California. Eventually, these projects will come to fruition.

 

Q: What projects does Mextypsa have in development?

A: We are working on a fascinating early-stage project that would generate electricity in Mexico very close to the US border, which would allow for the export of electricity. This would still require all applicable Mexican permits, so it is not a way of getting around local legislation. However, with the availability of land on the Mexican side of the border, the potential is piquing the interest of many companies. Developing projects in the solar and wind industry remains our core activity.

Since companies have been unable to invest as much in new projects, they are devoting more time and resources into existing projects to optimize production. They want their energy output to match or even exceed the original projection. This requires electrical and performance studies and sometimes engineering support and equipment.

 

Q: How does battery storage provide added value for energy producers?

A:  We are all becoming familiar with the concept of battery storage, which captures excess power production in order to release it when needed. Battery energy storage systems (BESS) can improve the overall availability and performance of the power plant, but also improve the electricity network’s stability and help reduce grid congestion.

We see companies wanting to test the waters and position themselves implementing this technology even when profits are not always so easily quantifiable. What is the price of having a backup in case the power goes out?

Last year we participated on a solar project in Baja California Sur that has a BESS with a capacity of 100MW, or 25MW/h for 4 hours. This may be the largest in Mexico.

 

Q: Why has solar energy developed at a faster rate than wind power when Mexico has optimal conditions for both?

A: Though they are vastly different technologies, I would say solar is simpler and more accessible. Wind farms require a more specific location and more complex civil works. It all comes down to investors and their preferences. Solar is a simpler technology that can be implemented pretty much anywhere and at any scale. From small household installations for on-site consumption all the way up to utility scale. Solar power provides a more predictable energy output. However, the total production hours per year is higher for wind.  Nevertheless, Mexico has outstanding conditions for both. There are some really interesting wind developments out there and we hope to see more in the coming years.

 

Q: How does Mextypsa act on its policy to be environmentally conscious, ensuring energy efficiency within its generation projects?

A: Perfect timing. We moved earlier this year into a new office in Mexico City which complies with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Latin America certification. Humanity has pretty much reached consensus: we want to live more sustainable lives, reduce our carbon emissions as well as others more hazardous ones and minimize our impact on climate change. This has entered our daily decisions, for consumers to corporate headquarters and financial institutions, even including governments and international agencies. The trend moving rapidly and nobody wants to be left behind.

 

Mextypsa is an independent consulting firm in the fields of civil engineering, architecture, industry, energy and the environment. Since its foundation, it has continuously participated in the development of all types of infrastructure projects.

Photo by:   Mextypsa
María José Goytia María José Goytia Journalist and Industry Analyst