Ken Tsutsumi
Board Member & Solutions Sales and Marketing
Panasonic
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View from the Top

Key Value Adds in EPC Experience and Staunch Client Support

By Cas Biekmann | Thu, 07/22/2021 - 11:38

Q: How does Panasonic’s local presence in the Mexican market contribute to its success?

A: Panasonic is 103 years old and has a prominent presence across the world. Even though the pandemic forced us to work online, we know that customers appreciate one-on-one interactions. Many businesses can be done remotely but a photovoltaic solar project, for example, needs boots on the ground to be completed successfully. In this regard, all countries are important to Panasonic. Panasonic has an office for the US and Canada and another one for Latin America, located in Brazil. Mexico is the second-largest market for the company in Latin America, so being present in the county is vital to the company’s success.

 

Q: How does Panasonic offer added value through its energy solutions and EPC service?

A: Panasonic provides photovoltaic solar for its commercial and industrial clients through its EPC service and also integrates battery storage. Batteries have long been a staple of the company because they were necessary for our cellphone and laptop production, for instance. More recently, Panasonic has been developing lithium-ion batteries for Tesla. Panasonic is a global leader in cylindrical lithium-ion battery production. We already offered batteries to Mexico’s telecom industry but we are now looking to integrate battery storage with solar solutions. Green hydrogen is another storage-related technology the company is planning to develop.

Unfortunately, Mexico’s grid is prone to blackouts, so adding storage adds a great deal of value for manufacturers because it prevents losses due to stoppages. Furthermore, there is no need to attach our storage solutions to a solar solution. In addition, Panasonic offers an analytical energy consumption eco-POWER meter. Panasonic provides added value with these solutions through its 40-year presence in the Mexican market, offering support and experienced engineering. Panasonic will be in Mexico to support its customers regardless of how the energy sector develops. When it comes to EPC, companies tend to arrive and then suddenly leave a country. This will not happen with Panasonic. Even if we were to drop a product from our portfolio, our customer support would remain as strong as ever.

Panasonic offers the entire EPC service as a turnkey solution, using Panasonic or third-party solar panels, depending on what the client prefers. We focus mostly on midsized projects, not as large as utility-scale but larger than small distributed generation installations. O&M is an important factor: solar systems are meant to function up to 20 years. For this to happen, the hardware must be maintained well. Since Panasonic plans for the long term, we are happy to support and look after our clients across the entire life cycle of the project. The company focuses especially on industrial clients in the Bajio area. We have an office in Queretaro, from which we have direct contact with end users. 

 

Q: How do you see solar and storage technology impacting energy use in the C&I segment?

A: On the one hand, we see more companies switching to clean energy to meet sustainability goals. On the other, solar plus storage’s potential to save costs is attractive. This means that two factors are driving the adoption of clean energy solutions. Mexico has great solar radiation, which helps to spark interest in the technology. Outside of utility-scale applications, such as Aura Solar III, behind-the-meter installations below 0.5MW are growing in popularity and will be in greater use in the years to come.

Regarding storage potential, we see two main opportunities. Using lithium-ion as a form of regular energy backup in case of blackouts is a logical application. Lithium-ion batteries address the pollution, cost, replacement and weight concerns associated with lead acid batteries. Although solar energy has many benefits, battery storage can also function by itself to protect companies from power outages. Storing energy when electricity rates are cheap and discharging them during peak hours adds further value.

 

Q: How is Panasonic working to foster its own sustainability with its Environment Vision 2050 strategy?

A: The company has a strategic vision based on six main objectives it aims to address. First of all, our own energy use in the manufacturing process should be lower than the energy we generate. Secondly, Panasonic has a plan to reduce its CO2 emissions; for instance, by developing technologies for our air-conditioning units that lower the intensity when sensors detect that no one is nearby. Thirdly, Panasonic is looking to recycle all its materials. Careful water use is another important area, focusing on recovery and re-use. Panasonic relies on chemical substances for its products but we work with them as responsibly as possible, recycling the substances where possible. Finally, we work to save and preserve biodiversity wherever we build our offices or factories.

Panasonic is a Japanese technology giant, originally focused on electronic consumer goods. Its energy branch functions as a manufacturer of solar and storage solutions specialized in EPC.

Photo by:   Panasonic
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst