Innovative Solutions for an Efficient NetworkWed, 02/19/2014 - 15:19
Increased efforts to raise public awareness in Mexico about the importance of energy efficiency have opened many doors for Alcione, a leading distributor in Mexico’s electricity market. According to Francisco Mitre, Director General of Alcione, the household sector provides plenty of opportunities given the high CFE tariffs in place in this segment, since after a consumer uses 30kW, their electricity rate increases fourfold. Alcione’s representatives advise customers on ways in which they can reduce their energy consumption by changing the lighting system or equipment they use, as well as avoid peak-time consumption. The company’s representatives can also install solar panels and change their clients’ bidirectional gauges, enabling people to generate power while consuming it. Alcione has essentially used bidirectional equipment to replace the need for batteries.
Due to their increasing efficiency, photovoltaic panels are the company’s preferred power generating technology. However, gas turbines are also widely used, which are particularly helpful for businesses that operate 24 hours a day. “Some industries work under specific tariffs that charge high prices during peak hours. In these cases, clients are advised to use gas turbines during peak times and turn them off for the rest of the day. To optimize the choice of energy source, financially speaking, we study each client’s consumption patterns. We need to be well acquainted with their operations in order to decide on the best solution,” says Mitre. Because micro-turbines run on natural gas, the company also encourages their use in regions that have access to the natural gas distribution network.
Given Alcione’s focus on diagnostics, the company’s own energy generation and transmission experiences open up great business opportunities. “We started by modifying our own headquarters in Cuernavaca, where we generate 20% of our energy consumption. In fact, on Sundays our gauge works inversely, because we send electricity to the network,” explains Mitre. Alcione has been taking on similar projects in the industrial sector, reducing its clients’ consumption rates by installing solar panels. The first step usually consists of offering clients energy saving and optimization options. “During the diagnostic phase, we point out to our customers the areas with the greatest potential for savings,” says Mitre. After energy savings have been made, Alcione can then steer its customers toward cogeneration.
According to Mitre, the company also benefits from its strategic alliances with the third parties that are hired to install its systems because their representatives, who attend the aforementioned training sessions, can take the company to the larger public. Alcione is equally as thorough in its own approach to distribution, acting as a distributor for a number of well-known and highly regarded brands, such as Philips and Osram. “We are confident that, with our extensive portfolio and well-trained representatives, we can always offer the most efficient solutions to its clients. We work with industry leaders and we transfer their quality to our customers,” explains Mitre.
Given that many of the manufacturers the company works with do not do their own direct marketing, Alcione has positioned itself as a reliable distribution channel for them, while also maintaining its commitment to providing its customers with the best solution they need. Mitre voices concern regarding some companies operating in the industry that recommend unnecessarily expensive solutions when mixed generation techniques would be more affordable. He argues that becoming acquainted with each client’s precise needs is crucial when prescribing a product or service.
Although Alcione is in favor of public policies that promote renewable energy use, the company has strong views on the role industry leaders should play in developing the sector. “Manufacturers should be in charge of ensuring standards are met in these areas, because they do a great job at it,” says Mitre. He believes that placing such responsibility on producers would avoid cheap, poor quality products from flooding the market. Alcione wants to increase sales in 2014 by 5%, with a subsequent 15% growth objective for 2015. If the company meets these objectives, its growth will be outpacing that of the market itself. “We are not growing alongside the sector, we are moving faster than that,” says Mitre. “The market is huge and we want to make it even larger. We want to drive its additional growth forward and make that our legacy.”