Mexican Solar Powered Water Heaters Take On Global CompetitionTue, 02/19/2013 - 15:20
Q: What are the main milestones in Módulo Solar’s technological development?
A: Módulo Solar has three product lines on the market: Axol, which consists of water heating for households, Maxol for heating water for industrial purposes, and Poliheat for swimming pools. Axol are the best-selling solar-powered water heaters in Mexico and have characteristics that were specifically designed for the Mexican market. This is currently our strongest line because it is used in houses that come under the Green Mortgage program. In Mexico, water is rather impure as it contains chlorine and other particles that make it corrosive. This is something we consider when designing equipment and we are able to guarantee a ten-year lifespan using Mexican water. The Maxol line of products was made for the European market. Those water heaters consist of flat solar collectors designed for industrial purposes in international markets, making it our line with the most potential. The success of our products has seen Módulo Solar, a Mexican company, rank among the top five companies with the best efficiency rates for solar collectors in Europe.
Q: What motivated Módulo Solar’s focus on obtaining certifications?
A: Mexican certifications are not recognized in Europe, so we have worked on obtaining the necessary certifications to enter the European market. We have ISO 9001-2008 certification and we are certified by the Spanish Association for Norms and Certificates. Solar Keymark is the most prestigious certificate for solar power products as it covers product efficiency, manufacturing processes, and product quality. Every year, we receive visits from Solar Keymark technicians who audit our company and make sure we are working according to their standards. Our US certifications include the Solar Rating Collector Certification and the Florida Solar Energy Center certification. In Mexico, Módulo Solar complies with the NMX-01 and NMX-04 norms for solar collectors and water heaters.
Q: What incentives could the Mexican government create to incite people to use solar heaters?
A: The most important program to incentivize the use of solar heaters is probably the Green Mortgage program, in which the installation of solar-powered water heaters is included in the house’s construction and the heater’s value is included in the total value of the mortgage. This is the only program of its kind in the world, enabling users to use the equipment without having to pay the full price right away. According to studies made about the Green Mortgage program, a solar water heater for a house with four people and one bathroom can save up to MX$250 (US$19) per month worth of gas. The heater only raises the total cost of the mortgage by MX$100 per month so the final user saves MX$150 per month. Ordinary people can thus help the country by being eco-friendly while contributing to Mexico’s economic situation as gas is subsidized. Around 200,000 houses with solar-powered water heaters have been installed over the past four years as part of the Green Mortgage program, and Módulo Solar has been responsible for making 25% of them.
Q: What advantages does Mexico have in the solar water heating market?
A: Over 40 years, solar-powered water heating has developed a longstanding tradition here. Mexico has advantages regarding geographical conditions, technology, and production costs. Manufacturing a solar- powered water heater in Mexico is more affordable than doing so in the US but the quality standards are the same. In Mexico, technological development for this specific sector provides strong opportunities. Also, this sector is highly specialized but does not fall under the high-tech category like the photovoltaic sector, which requires patented technology. Mexico can become a leading solar heater technology manufacturer in Latin America. Currently, Brazil installs the largest number of solar- powered water heaters in the Americas. Last year alone, Brazil probably installed 1 million m2 of solar-powered water heaters. The problem is that Brazil closed its borders, so it is now lagging behind in technological development. A Mexican-made solar powered water heater offers better quality and efficiency than a Brazilian one. This will affect Brazil as foreign companies will have better technology when they do enter the market. In Mexico, the five largest companies making solar-powered water heaters all work with European technology standards.