North Carolina Wants in on Mexico's Energy MarketWed, 02/21/2018 - 17:19
Q: What is the EDPNC’s mission in Mexico’s energy sector?
PW: EDPNC is a nonprofit organization funded by the North Carolina Department of Commerce to help promote economic development opportunities in foreign direct investment, state growth and to foster international growth. Through our counsel services, we assist companies to become export-ready and connect them with attractive foreign markets, such as Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia, via our seven state trade offices. Mexico is North Carolina’s largest trade partner as it is the largest trade destination for North Carolina-made products.
A particular target we are looking to develop, where North Carolina can really add more value than any other area, is bioenergy and biofuels. North Carolina’s sizable timber and agricultural markets produce a considerable amount of timber, hog and poultry waste. We are in the middle of finding creative ways to capitalize on this resource and produce energy from it. We also want to contribute with smart grid integrations and IoT. Our state is home to a major IT cluster, as well as the US’ largest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research lab. When North Carolina-based IT companies, such as IBM, Lenovo and Google, partner up with energy companies like ABB, Siemens or Schneider, they find ways to get the most efficiency out of renewable energy sources and integrate that into a useful interface. Dartmouth is home to burgeoning startups like Plotwatt, which found a way to commercialize a system that can be integrated into the existing power systems of large franchises and uses algorithms to build efficient energy-use schemes.
North Carolina’s energy mix is greatly diverse, including three nuclear plants, over 400 solar and wind power plants and over 100 biogas plants. One of our strengths is our integration of these technologies into our day-to-day life through private-sector partnerships and leveraging our
state’s R&D. North Carolina is home to some of the most renowned research institutions in the US, which provide a great platform for engineering applications. A lot of top-tier US technology developed over the last decade has come out of our state. For example, North Carolina gave life to and raised Cree, a global manufacturer and marketer of lightingclass LEDs that spun out of one of our universities.
Q: What bilateral mechanisms do you use to foster business relationships?
LC: For certain missions or company requirements, particularly when it comes to in-depth market research, we sometimes contact the US Commercial Service in Mexico because of its greater human resources. Our Mexico City office is a member of the American Chamber of Commerce. EDPNC is also a member of the Association of State Offices in Mexico, which was created to bring together the 23 US states with local state offices. We meet every other month to cooperate in any way we can to foster business for our respective companies.
PW: There is also a Mexican Consulate in North Carolina. Our political relationship with Mexico is very strong but when it comes to trade, we rely heavily on our local Mexico City office. The US Department of Commerce has strong lines of communication with us, sharing information on upcoming inbound or outbound trade missions to Mexico and the rest of Latin America to capitalize on new and ongoing business opportunities.
Q: What long-term objectives is EDPNC targeting in Mexico’s energy sector?
PW: For us, it boils down to perfecting the efficient way in which we gather market intelligence and packaging that information and the opportunities in Mexico to our companies in a user-friendly way. We build our programming around that to increase their chances of success here. It is a dynamic, ever-changing model, where we have to identify the best approach for each industry. There are always lots of pieces to the puzzle and we can add value into our programming and missions without having to reinvent the wheel, but definitely keeping it spinning in an increasingly efficient and successful direction.