Lighting the Way to Energy EfficiencyWed, 02/22/2017 - 15:36
Q: What challenges has the company encountered as it entered the energy sector?
A: In this market we focus mainly on two areas: renewable energy generation and energy efficiency, mostly efficientlighting devices. We work with commercial and industrial clients, with a focus largely on big infrastructure projects. The company has been involved in several public infrastructure projects including bridges, highways, tunnels and hospitals, promoting energy savings beyond the expected standards. The company has overcome different barriers in the energy sector. Entering the public infrastructure segment was particularly challenging because the playing field is not always fair, sometimes favoring personal relationships over the quality of a proposal and its competitiveness. This has been our major challenge during our 13 years in this industry. Ensuring a level playing field is not only a challenge for the government but also for private industry. Intec Ecotecnologías follows a strict policy of avoiding bad practices such as bribery or favoritism.
Our second challenge is financing. Project financing in Mexico is expensive, short-term and faces low levels of trust from financial entities. Particularly in the case of renewable energies, having accessible and long-term financing is crucial no matter the type of financing scheme used. International development banks, multilateral organizations and national development banks such as NAFIN or Bancomext tend to focus on large-scale projects, ignoring the potential of middle and small-sized initiatives. We work with the latter, which represents 50 percent of the total solar panels installed in the world. Middle and small-sized renewable energy projects create local jobs, promote local businesses and benefit SMEs directly. Offering green-financing schemes addressed to the needs of medium and small-scale projects will be key to the industry’s development in Mexico.
The last barrier we face is unfair competition from newly arrived manufacturers that lack the required quality certifications but offer their products at unusually low prices. We prefer to acquire our products from certified manufacturers even if they are more expensive. It takes a long time to take a successful product to the market from the R&D stage, which is why we prefer to work with mature and well-established companies. We have received offers from companies claiming better performance than our current suppliers. Many of the competitors in the market, however, do not take important aspects into account such as the Balance of Plant (BoP) components, which are crucial to ensure performance. We have broad experience so we know what is best for our clients.
Q: What are some of the company’s flagship projects and how were they implemented?
A: We have a project in Cozumel that consists of an offgrid hybrid system, which has achieved 100 percent cost savings regarding power purchases from the grid. The project was installed on a commercial deck that needed to have reliable and efficient lighting 24 hours a day. The site used to experience problems with power supply from the grid, prompting the deck’s management to invest in an off-grid system. We offered a centralized solar panel system with a central battery pack, with enough capacity to feed the entire deck’s electrical system independently. Using a centralized system makes it easier to dismantle in case of hurricanes, something we included in the project design due to the location.
The system offers high reliability thanks to an additional generator coupled to the solar panels that starts automatically if the weather is unfavorable for a long period. The system is located by the sea facing extreme weather conditions but it works perfectly thanks to detailed engineering and the high-quality products used. Regarding infrastructure projects, we are proud of the work we did on the Urbana Sur highway on the second level of Mexico City’s Periferico, from San Jeronimo to Viaducto Tlalpan. The project has the largest on-grid solar PV system installed in Mexico City with a capacity of 174kW.