Plugging IT Experience into the Power SectorWed, 02/22/2017 - 15:25
As Mexican companies navigate the foggy legal terrain introduced by the new energy framework, those that already have a handle on the regulations will gain an advantage, says Gustavo Rodríguez, Director General of Vansertec. “The company’s experience and expertise in other key industries of the Mexican economy has allowed it to take advantage of regulations and the benefits such as ‘green’ tax deductions, commonly missed by other project developers,” Rodríguez says. “Federal law mandates all sustainable infrastructure bought in Mexico, including renewable energy technologies, must be 100-percent income tax deductible. Vansertec quickly took advantage of this, which had a strong impact on our activities and incentivized our use of green operations.”
Another incentive for incorporating renewable technologies under the new regulations is the exemption from reporting interconnection projects below the 500kW threshold, avoiding the fees attached to the development of these projects. According to Rodríguez, in these cases CFE and CENACE only need to be informed of the extra production. “Looking to take advantage of this opportunity we are dividing our 1.2MW solar park into smaller projects.” Vansertec was originally conceived as an engineering firm and entered the telecommunications industry 10 years ago. The company’s focus back then was on Wi-Fi services for SMEs, after which it entered the IT security segment with Closed Circuit TV cameras. That key decision allowed it to start working with Mexico City’s government, which later resulted in opportunities for further government deals and participation in public tenders. The success of these new business deals strengthened the company’s reputation, especially in the public sector.
The company entered the energy market about two years ago when it began working with a Spanish solar business, from which it gained valuable technical expertise. “As a result, we have been moving our client portfolio to the renewable energy industry, also driven by all the emerging climate norms and agreements,” says Rodríguez. Its first renewable project was with Constructora del Estado de Hidalgo, a solar park designed to supply 90 percent of an Hidalgo's housing project's street-lighting electricity, which allows it to be nearly independent from CFE and helped build Vansertec’s reputation. “The state of Hidalgo, where the project is located, legally requires that such projects be partly independent from the national grid. Now we want to replicate this success with more builders and industrial customers in the surrounding areas of Mexico City,” says Rodríguez.
For companies transitioning from one sector to another, a key element is the ability to attract and deliver financing. Vansertec is in a strong position because it acts as a broker with several banking institution such as CI Banco and FIDE, while also using the company’s own capital for deals. The appeal of its financing solutions is the flexibility it can offer and the cost efficiency it gets from its innovative schemes. “We are trying to promote the idea that infrastructure does not necessarily have to be bought,” says Rodríguez. “Through a third party we can offer a two to 20-year contract for electricity sales just like CFE but 30 percent cheaper. We will deliver the energy and a third party can provide the infrastructure, which is part of the concept behind a PPA. In the end, our mission is to help our clients save money while protecting the environment.”
The company is also working with two unique technologies for its Mexican customers. The first, MicroLed, is a German-patented technology fabricated in Spain and mainly used for public lighting. “MicroLed offers 45 percent more savings than a regular LED or 80 percent more than traditional light bulbs,” Rodríguez says. “The shipping costs make it slightly more expensive than a LED so we have direct agreements with the factory to reduce our overhead costs as much as possible, making it competitive and affordable.” The second is an innovative off-grid power generator consisting of a selfsufficient hybrid generator with a single PV panel used to start the equipment. “This solution can be especially attractive for the tourism sector, for instance hotels, because it provides uninterrupted service in a selfsustainable manner without compromising large areas of the hotel.”