Kevin Luis Gutiérrez Treviño
General Manager
View from the Top

More Utility-Scalre Solar Projects Are Coming

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 13:36

Q: Ingeteam has a strong presence in wind and solar., but with the changes in the energy landscape, how does Ingeteam see its opportunities evolving?

A: We have identified two commercial targets in the coming years: big legacy projects with a demand for specialized technology, which will be carried out by private players, and projects to be developed by the government. Ingeteam normally goes for large developments, as this is how it builds its flagship projects. However, we are also turning our gaze to other markets and we plan to introduce new products for projects lower than 500kW. At the moment, Mexico possesses an installed PV capacity of slightly over 100MW, of which 46MW uses materials produced by Ingeteam. This great market share is explained by the fact that Ingeteam has been involved in the two of the largest PV projects in Mexico.

Q: What is your perspective on solar’s competitiveness, and what has Ingeteam done differently from other suppliers to obtain this significant market share?

A: Ingeteam’s distinguishing factor is its technology, which can be easily applied to utility-scale projects. As it stands, we can supply power stations with a capacity of up to 2.14MW and all the needed equipment, from inverters to protection systems. Our contribution to the two largest PV projects in Mexico is a testament to this. Just as developers expect their projects to last over 20 years, they also expect warranties to ensure the equipment will last an equal amount of time.

In the early stages of a project’s development, clients know how much the equipment costs, how much they need, and how much it costs to maintain it. During this process, we offer strong consulting services because we know how long it can take such projects to see the light of day. This is particularly necessary, since strong changes are occurring in the Mexican energy landscape and everybody is nervous, including CFE. Despite these changes, the cost of solar components has fallen in recent years, meaning that solar energy is now available at a much more competitive price.

Q: Which breakthrough technologies do you wish to introduce to the Mexican market, and how will these impact your entry into other market segments?

A: In the past, Ingeteam focused on big inverters that were destined for utility-scale projects. However, we are now incorporating new equipment that will compete in the string inverters market. Taking into consideration that the distribution and generation of energy will become stronger in Mexico, Ingeteam will introduce a new 10-20kW three-phase inverter in response. Ingeteam’s designs cater to the specifications of the European market, so any new products for the Mexican market have to be adapted to its peculiarities. These new products are tailored to industrial customers. We are also targeting the residential market with our new novelty inverter Ingecon Sun 1 Play HF.

Q: Now Aura Solar I Is up and running, how soon will we see other solar projects on this scale?

A: Ingeteam believes projects like Aura Solar I will continue to be seen in the Mexican energy mix. Because of this, we are preparing to supply as many PV inverters as possible. There are skeptics that believe the solar sector will not flourish, but we strongly believe it will continue to grow and develop. Last year, I mentioned that local developers would be inspired thanks to utility-scale projects like Aura Solar I, and I still uphold that belief. While Aura Solar I is favorably positioned in an area that allows such projects to be more easily developed due to electricity costs, the grid is very weak and can only sustain a limited amount of similar projects.

Q: What potential do you see for the introduction of batteries in solar energy projects?

A: The introduction of batteries across Mexico is utterly unnecessary and the development of projects will be hindered, as prices would rise due to these technologies. However, we have to concede that isolated grids like the one in Baja California would benefit from such solutions to maintain their stability. There are two possible outcomes. If batteries are used in Baja California, there will be lower electricity prices but projects will be more expensive to develop. If batteries are not used, projects will be cheaper to develop but in limited quantities. The introduction of batteries will completely transform the financial processes that projects undergo. At the moment, batteries are expensive and their technology still requires development.