Patricia Tatto
Vice President
ATA Renewables America
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View from the Top

Mexico as Basis for Succesful Technical Energy Consulting

By Dalia Maria de León | Tue, 04/28/2020 - 11:14

Q: How would you describe ATA Renewables’ experience in the Mexican market?
A: ATA Renewables, which turns 15 years old this year, has gone through different stages in the Mexican market. We entered the market before the Energy Reform was enacted and since then we have been reviewing projects. ATA's strategy was to consolidate our Mexico office to eventually serve its clients who were arriving in Mexico to develop projects. As a result, we began to participate in renewable energy projects in Mexico and began attracting clients from all over the world. ATA Renewables’ operations in Mexico grew organically and placed Mexico as the center for developing other activities in Latin America, such as consulting, engineering, and project development. We began to supervise and finance large-scale projects that are now considered top-notch. From the office in Mexico, we now supervise company projects in whole Latin America region, such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, among others. 

We are also active in the distributed generation market, and we act as advisers to an increasing number of investment funds and banks. It is important to highlight that ATA Renewables is also involved in hydroelectric generation, due to the government’s interest in the development of this sector. As a result, we got involved in the supervision of hydroelectric energy transactions.

Q: Of ATA’s services, which attracted the most demand throughout 2019 in Mexico?
A: Our technical consulting, including all our engineering services, attracts the highest demand. We also have been monitoring plants that have already been installed or are in the ready-to-build stage. For instance, we perform electroluminescence analysis and inverter performance studies for photovoltaic parks, as well equipped with bifacial panels. Similarly, we have had great demand for our certification advisory services to supervise activities in factories in other countries.

Q: What strategies does the company use to expand its client portfolio in the country?
A: We have developed a strategy that is in line with our consistent growth. When we started, we did not have many people. We grew gradually, according to where the market was heading. We worked closely with our office in Spain and despite all the changes that have occurred recently in the Mexican market, we continue to grow. We continue to have a great deal of work and from our headquarters in Mexico we review all our projects in South America. It is important to highlight ATA’s flexibility in terms of mobility, since it does not have any limitations and can oversee projects in different countries.

Q: What main lessons have you learned in other markets that can be transferred to Mexico?
A: Public auctions have been an important factor for the development of renewable energy potential throughout Latin America. In Mexico, we are still waiting for the auctions to restart so that we can be part of the growth of renewable energy and help to meet the country’s commitments in terms of emission reductions. The market requires clarity related to projects, paperwork, environmental and social commitments. All projects must meet all quality standards. Similarly, we recognize the work of development banks because they force projects to adjust their standards in terms of environment and social impact. Sometimes governments ignore these fundamentals.

We also recommend that operators use good practices when developing their projects. This means to select proven technologies, choose experienced EPC contractors, and avoid incurring unnecessary expenses. In general terms, the conditions and objectives of each project must be carefully analysed to optimize results.

Q: What were the major challenges for the company in 2019?
A: The main challenge was to stay positive when facing investors by providing them with an objective view of the market and advising them about the risks being generated as a result of the lack of clarity in the government strategy for the development of renewable energies in the country. Many of our clients were shocked when the auctions were cancelled. This situation was complicated, especially when trying to figure out a way to communicate to clients that their projects were assured and that there would be no unexpected complications.

The market is resigned to these changes and everyone is anticipating the results of the new infrastructure plan. We hope that this plan brings clarity to the markets. We are a huge sector with many resources. The sector has a great deal of potential and generates jobs. We do not understand why coexistence has not been allowed. Everyone has their vision and we hope they all come together and we can continue to work.

Q: What actions are needed to reach gender integration in the renewable energy industry in Mexico?

A: Gender integration is everyone’s job. The government must focus its educational strategy and incorporate inclusionary fundamental regulation. Companies must analyse their capacity building programmes and training should be essential. We need to work together with universities and schools. Education from an early age is also important.

ATA Renewables is an independent renewable energy group that offers engineering, advisory, certification and market intelligence solutions. It operates internationally from its offices in Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Australia.

Dalia Maria de León Dalia Maria de León Journalist & Industry Analyst