Problem Solving, at the Heart of Invenergy's ProjectsBy Cas Biekmann | Tue, 05/11/2021 - 14:08
Q: How is Invenergy positioned in the Mexican market?
A: Invenergy has been in Mexico since 2014 and I joined the company in late 2020. We have two operating assets: a cogeneration facility and the country’s largest and most efficient peaker power plant. The peaker was part of the 2017 energy auction. Although not a renewable power plant, as it is powered by natural gas, it does support the integration of further wind and solar energy into the grid as a very flexible asset that can quickly respond to changes in supply and demand or grid conditions. Markets like Baja California and Yucatan will likely need more capacity in this regard in the future. We also have two projects under construction, a wind project and a hybrid storage and solar project. We expect these to enter into operation in 2021. Furthermore, Invenergy has a pipeline of projects focused on cogeneration with industrial clients, an area where the company wants to continue moving forward. Heat-intensive industries such as paper production, for instance, can benefit.
Q: How does the company decide which projects are viable?
A: It is a mix of viability and what Invenergy wants to drive. We predominantly see ourselves as a clean energy company, which allows us to venture into cogeneration as well. We have been looking into LNG for Central America, for instance. Mexico’s current regulatory environment is making us reevaluate the approach we have used successfully in other markets like the US. There, we have been successful in developing wholesale renewable projects and contracting those through virtual PPAs to industrial clients. It is a model that has worked well for both the C&I sector and renewable developers in the US. With the renewables restrictions we are seeing in Mexico, we have to somewhat rethink this model. Building wholesale renewables projects will likely not be possible in the short term. Therefore, we still want to address industrial clients, focusing on more direct solutions such as cogeneration. We will consider delivering solutions related to renewables as well.
Q: How does Invenergy’s work on the Fenicias wind farm for Grupo México factor into the company’s wider strategy?
A: The Fenicias Energy Center is still under construction. The objective is to bring the wind farm into operation this year. We believe this goal is achievable even within the current environment marked by slowdowns. We are proud to be working with a mining company that is helping to make the extraction process more sustainable. Renewable energy companies like Invenergy need mined materials for its equipment so we are proud to contribute to the supply chain’s sustainability.
Developing projects for specific industries is our focus. Once we understand an industry, we can better tailor solutions and help our clients achieve their corporate goals. Rather than looking for a standardized solution, we aim to understand what benefits our clients need the most. Invenergy enters markets looking to solve problems and support the growth of the market we come into. We are here to build infrastructure that allows Mexico to move in a positive direction.
Q: What are the characteristics of Invenergy’s solar and storage project in Baja California Sur?
A: The La Toba Energy Center, a storage and solar project, is an impressive showcase power plant, it represents an interesting entry of battery storage in the Mexican market. It is more than just a solar park paired up with batteries: the solar predominantly functions to charge the battery and have a more reliable resource for CENACE to support the grid. The intermittency issue and its effect on the grid has gained more attention recently in Mexico, so we want to contribute to solutions rather than generate more problems for the grid. La Toba, therefore, allows us to provide more than just renewable energy by generating a predictable output for the grid. We are hoping to see the project become a key resource for CENACE.
Invenergy has also been developing what we call transmission and distribution deferral-type storage projects in the US. With a battery, you can help the grid by postponing transmission or substitute it. Through a battery and an inverter, many possibilities can be found, even some that have not been explored yet. In many parts of the world, including Mexico, we believe this has beneficial applications. Invenergy is not only a renewable company, it wants to drive clean energy development and infrastructure as a whole, also through infrastructure needed to facilitate clean energy like transmission lines. We would be open to supporting CFE in this regard as well.
Q: What would you like to achieve by the end of 2021?
A: It is definitely key to get our two projects into operation. We would also like to get at least one other project from our pipeline into construction. Furthermore, Invenergy aims to continue working on developing its pipeline of cogeneration projects and to reassess all other projects in the pipeline, especially if they can be adapted to solve specific problems regarding operations and supporting the grid. I would like to replenish that pipeline in the near term and start driving projects embraced by CENACE and CRE.
Invenergy and its affiliated companies develop, own, and operate large-scale sustainable energy generation and storage facilities in the Americas, Europe and Asia. It has successfully developed 180 projects, totaling over 28,000MW in operation, construction or contracted. Its areas of expertise include including wind, solar, transmission, natural gas power generation facilities and advanced energy storage projects.