Rafael Valdéz
Managing Director Latin America & the Caribbean
Envision Energy
View from the Top

Making Wind Energy "Smart"

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 14:48

Q: What makes Envision’s products “smart” and how do they differ from other wind turbines in the market?

A: The world is at a crucial crossroad where the energy and digital revolutions are converging. Envision understands the significance of this moment and offers comprehensive energy solutions that combine state of the art technology with software. We are constantly adapting our products and services to the challenging environments and needs of different markets. We do not see ourselves as a pure technology supplier. We have developed special turbines for ultra-low wind speed sites, high-altitude areas about 3,000m above sea level, as well as extremely cold locations that can reach -50°C. We have also worked in high-humidity regions with high incidences of hurricanes, as is the case for some Mexican states. We have over 8GW of turbines in operation or under construction, primarily in China, but also in Chile, Sweden, Mexico and other countries. We are also working on energy storage, smart distribution systems and smart cities, such as a pilot project we are developing in New Zealand. Our software solutions help us and our clients optimize the monitoring and performance assessment of a given turbine, wind farm or portfolio of renewable energy assets. We are the world’s largest asset manager from a software/IT perspective, managing more than 50GW in wind and solar projects globally, largely operated by third parties.

Q: Why did the company locate its new projects in Yucatan?

A: Yucatan is consistent with our business strategy. We avoid following the crowd and are always looking for unexplored opportunities. The company always tries to make the most of the given conditions and daring to explore new areas drives us to innovate. In Yucatan we take advantage of the region’s attractive wind speeds, nascent development and increasing demand for energy. We have two projects under construction in Yucatan and a few more under development. One is a 70MW wind farm. Its electricity will be sold only to private off-takers. The second was one of the winners of CFE’s first long-term electricity tender, a 90MW wind farm, 85MW of which will be sold to CFE through a long-term bilateral agreement. We will sell the rest on the spot market.

Envision Energy sees great potential in the wholesale electricity market but we need to move cautiously. There is some uncertainty because the price is not fixed so we are taking a gradual approach, learning by doing before making a significant investment or taking on greater risk and exposure. As the market evolves it will become increasingly difficult to establish attractive bilateral contracts or win projects through tenders, so we are already preparing for the market’s next stages.

Q: How are the company’s projects usually financed and how do you gain investors’ trust?

A: We do not limit ourselves to traditional financing institutions such as Mexican banks or lenders. We are in talks with multilateral agencies in Washington as well as development banks in America and China. The company is also dealing with commercial banks to diversify our financing portfolio. Envision provides certainty to financial institutions because we have a proven technology, with DNV GL certification in some of our turbine models that have been subject to strict technical due diligence in diverse regions. We initially encountered some reluctance from Mexican financial institutions because they had little experience dealing with Chinese companies but now we are working with two of them.

Q: What does Envision want to achieve in Mexico in the next two years?

A: Mexico is committed to producing 35 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2024 and we plan to stay in Mexico for at least five to 10 years, allowing us to accompany the country in this transition. Envision has made a commitment to be the largest Chinese investor in Mexico’s renewable energy sector and we are doing that already.