News Article

Making Mexico’s Energy Transition Smart

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 12:57

Mexico needs to create a smart grid that can integrate every kind of power generation source, panelists at Mexico Energy Forum 2018 said on Wednesday at the Hotel Sheraton Maria Isabel in Mexico City. “Smart grids should assimilate the best telecoms available to integrate and train every player involved in the purpose of a smart grid, which is flexibility,” said Ana Bojorquez, Corporate Lawyer at ACCIONA Energía México.

The country is already on its way to that goal, added César Hernández, Head of Planning, Institutional Relations and International Affairs Unit at the Federal Commission of Economic Competition (COFECE). “For the first time in its history, Mexico has a program to consolidate a smart grid, which was created by the Ministry of Energy, CRE and CENACE and was open for consultation to the private sector. This program has designed a competitive and efficient path for the Mexican energy industry, and all was possible thanks to the enactment of the Energy Transition Law.”

According to Hernández, who is also the Former Deputy Ministry of Electricity at the Ministry of Energy, the Mexican energy industry now has several market mechanisms that generate competitiveness and better opportunities to not only consolidate the market but to make it stronger and better. “We now have many mechanisms to measure and control the smart grids developed in the country, including IoT and R&D,” he said.

Understanding why smart grids are needed will be a key element for their successful implementation, said Alejandro Preinfalk, Executive Vice President of Energy Management, Building Technologies and Mobility at Siemens Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. “We need to craft a good plan and understand every trend in the market to understand why the smart grids are needed.” He continued: “Automation and digitalization should focus on creating an ever more efficient process for the whole value chain of the energy industry. After this is done, we can have a better understanding of the challenges ahead and how to solve them.”

Another factor that will help make the country’s energy transition “smart” is the availability of skilled labor, according to Michel Yehuda, Industrial Business Unit Director of Fluke Dominion Mexico, and moderator of the panel. Kevin Gutiérrez, Sales Vice President of the Solar Division at HUAWEI Mexico, is among those concerned about the lack of skilled labor, especially with around 80 clean energy projects on the horizon. “Companies and final users urgently require training to know exactly how to create more efficient solutions and to be able to actually take advantage of them. Every player on the board needs to get involved and contribute to make supply and demand more competitive.” Gutiérrez said.

A generation gap also exists in the industry, colored by the fact that Mexico is not graduating enough engineers, said Ernesto López, Vice President of Partner Projects and Ecobuilding at Schneider Electric Mexico and Central America. “Mexico does not generate enough engineers to perform the needed tasks anymore,” he said. “There is a generational gap between the engineers who created the reality we are living today and those who will actually implement and improve that reality.” Hernández added that, “several states in Mexico have created sectoral funds to develop human capital in the areas of the country or the regions that need it the most. We now have incorporated international best practices in several sectors, and the clean energy industry is not an exception. R&D is a critical factor to keep developing useful tools such as smart grids, but that is not enough; we need the right human capital to implement and perfect the capabilities not only of these smart grids, but of the entire value chain.”

Understanding the nature of the market will go a long way to making smart grids a firmer reality, said Preinfalk. “Automation and digitalization should be a sustainable change and every player in the market should understand what makes the market stronger so companies like ours can help to create a reliable and secure smart grid.”