Ángel Mejía
Chief Executive Officer
Inventive Power
Aldo Agraz
Chief Technology Officer
Inventive Power
View from the Top

Heat Can Come from Solar

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 17:45

Q: What is the main problem Inventive Power seeks to solve for the Mexican energy industry?

AM: There are two types of energy consumption: heat and electricity. More than 60 percent of industrial players requires thermal energy to execute processes. Often, these companies spend more money consuming heat, than electricity. In addition, thermal energy is produced in situ, through heaters powered by fossil fuels like diesel, LNG or fuel oil. Only the companies that have access to gas pipelines use natural gas. This fuel is manifested through hot water, steam, hot air and hot oil as there are many ways to use heat. Usually, these heaters generate emissions where heat is being consumed. This is very different from electricity, where power plants are located in isolated zones. Hence, CO2 emissions are being generated in cities. The pollution we observe in urban areas is produced by mobile sources like cars and fixed sources like heaters. As an industry, we aim to reduce emissions emitted in cities by providing on-site heat generation technology powered by the sun.

The use of fossil fuels is becoming more expensive. For instance, a company that uses diesel has to pay 10 times more for heating purposes than if it used natural gas. Many companies from the agribusiness sector do not have access to natural gas, and their production costs are very high. Our solution supports these companies in reducing their operating costs through an abundant energy source and helps avoid CO2 emissions. We help companies estimate energy costs on a long-term basis and become more competitive within their industry segment. In Mexico, solar thermal technologies are the cheapest alternative to generate energy compared with other fossil fuels.

Q: How does Inventive Power differentiate itself from other players in such a segmented market?

AX: We developed and patented the technology. Inventive Power already holds a patent in Mexico and we are seeking to introduce this process in the US as well. Our heaters concentrate solar light, which lead to operating temperatures for a specific process. For instance, the process to cookheese curd requires from 40°C to 120°C, but frying processes deliver hot oil at 185°C. Our product is targeted to these kinds of applications. For other projects we use a different technology that handles lower temperatures. With this technology, we design a tailored project for each client, depending on their processes and operating schedules.

AM: Our product is manufactured in the country. All the technology from the renewable energy industry is foreign. Elements such as mounting structures, solar panels and inverters are manufactured overseas. Even companies that have installed large-scale utility plants bring an international labor force to work at these facilities. In this sense, we are very proud that Inventive Power represents one of the few solutions where 100 percent of the technology is Mexican. Our company is a case study: the technology was created at a university perfected through different business incubators. Private and public organisms supporting entrepreneurship were very helpful. This technology was supported by CONACyT, COECYTJAL and INADEM.

Q: How do you foresee the development of the solar thermal industry in the near future?

AM: One of the major problems in this industry is information. Industrial players must be made aware that they can generate steam with solar energy. Close to 95 percent of the companies that know us lacked knowledge about these possibilities. At the global level, there are six companies seizing solar energy with this specific configuration. In this segment, Inventive Power has the most installed projects worldwide, which makes us the most experienced.

Despite our success, we still need to generate confidence in our technology and explain how it works. Our main focus is the agribusiness sector because these companies are located outside cities and do not have access to natural gas. At the same time, because they are located outside urban centers, these companies have larger areas available for installation. At the moment, we are working with the food and beverages industry in the production of meat, distillates, beer and dairy. The heat treatment of metallic pieces also represents an interesting market that we are exploring. On the commercial side, we work closely with hotels and sports clubs that require large amounts of hot water and steam.

Inventive Power is a leader in the development of innovative generation technologies that maximize the reduction of energy costs in the commercial and industrial segments. Its CSP concentration technology reduces by 80 percent the fuels that are used in heaters to generate thermal energy powered by the sun