Raúl Ceballos
Deputy Director Of Technology
Organización Soriana
View from the Top

Green Bets Pay Off

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 14:21

Q: As a supermarket chain with 815 locations, what role do renewables play in the company’s sustainability strategy?
A: Soriana’s goal is to supply the energy required by its stores using only clean and renewable energy sources, and wind power in particular. The company started working on renewable energy matters in 2005, and nine years later, we consolidated our first wind power supply project. During this time, we also put several programs in place that contribute to the sustainability of our operations.
First, we focused on developing a structure to ensure efficient energy use at our stores. Second, Soriana quantified its energy consumption and calculated its impact on the company’s operations. We then put in place energy-monitoring systems to understand our energy-use patterns and only then did we start looking for generators that could supply the clean energies that we need, as we do not own any wind farms or solar parks. Among our milestones, Soriana came third in the Ministry of Energy’s 2010 National Energy Prize contest in the segment of commercial consumers.
Q: What prompted Soriana to select wind power as its source for generating clean energy?
A: Although wind power is an intermittent energy source, one of its advantages is that it does not require an oil pipeline or a fuel line to feed the turbines. Soriana identified areas whose wind resources could ensure a constant supply, even if it was not 100 percent of the time, and started from there. We recognized that Oaxaca and Tamaulipas could provide a steady source of clean energy from wind power and partnered with Iberdrola in wind farms in Puebla and Oaxaca. The energy generated by these windmills now helps to power Soriana’s operations.
Between 2016 and 2017, the company increased its use of wind energy by 59 percent as a result of two new wind farms developed by GEMEX entering operations and supplying Soriana. GEMEX is developing another wind farm in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, that will increase Soriana’s renewable energy use when it enters operations in 2019.
Q: What must be done to promote the generation of renewable energies in Mexico, in addition to CELs?
A: It is time for the authorities to incentivize the development of solar parks as never before. CRE needs to help boost the use of solar panels at companies. Energy costs have seen significant increases and a great alternative to mitigate this is to make sure that companies can use 25 percent of renewables in their energy mix. Since the US$/MWh can be easily predicted, it is possible for companies to factor those costs into their budgets and reduce the percentage of their energy supply exposed to changing energy prices. In terms of CELs, we are not directly affected because Soriana does not generate energy on its own. We do not own wind farms or solar parks but purchase the entireity of our energy production of our generating partners.
Q: What are Soriana’s most important sustainability-related plans for 2019?
A: The top priority is to star operations at the wind park in Ciudad Victoria. It will have an installed capacity of 117.5MW and will produce 460,000MWh/y. We expect this project to reduce our carbon footprint by 268,000 tons of CO2 and to supply 85 percent of our stores with clean energy. The remaining 15 percent will be sourced from conventional energy. We also want to incorporate around 96 stores into the company’s energy-monitoring system. The Soriana stores with the highest energy consumption are our top priority to monitor. By incorporating them into this monitoring system, we can make the necessary adjustments to increase their energy efficiency. In 2017, Soriana reduced its energy consumption by over 20,000MWh. We expect to reduce consumption by 19,000MWh in 2018 simply by monitoring energy use. We are also working on a new energy strategy that includes everything from the renewal of the HVACs at our stores to more efficient water and waste management.