Alfredo Beltrán
Director General
Greenlux
/
View from the Top

A Product to End the Constant Need to Clean Solar Panels

By Cas Biekmann | Wed, 10/28/2020 - 15:35

Q: How has Greenlux penetrated the Mexican market and what is its main success story?

A: Greenlux was founded in 2012 in Monterrey by three partners. We were worried about the polluting of our planet and saw an opportunity in solar energy, with the purpose of demonstrating that people can make a difference. Greenlux sells photovoltaic panels ranging from one panel to 3,000 or more. The company began with residential and smaller commercial areas and today our business includes industrial players and large commercial areas looking to boost their sustainability. Solar panels have become much cheaper, making solar a feasible option to bring down energy costs. In 2017, we started to work on an architecturally pleasing solar system for the University of Chiapas, consisting of a tunnel with translucent panels, which is about to be completed. This served as the jumping board toward larger projects for us.

Greenlux sets itself apart by focusing on client interactions and the quality of the products we install because the warranty on factory products itself does not stretch that far. By guaranteeing the best possible installation process, we can help assure that the panels last over 20 years. With solar, people should realize they are making an investment for the long term. We offer many different options for financing, including PPAs for both industrial and smaller users. The company now has multiple branch offices across the country.

 

Q: How did the company identify opportunities in the cleaning of solar panels and what makes the Cleanlux product revolutionary in this regard?

A: In 2015, the company identified a major opportunity in the cleaning of solar panels. While modules require minimal maintenance, cleaning is essential to assure optimal performance. In Mexico, panels should be cleaned at least four times per year. When it comes to smaller solar projects, there is really nobody who verifies if maintenance is being done at all, although panel inspections are more frequent in the industrial sector. Most panels are mounted on roofs or other high areas, which also creates risks for accidents. The time spent, resources used and costs incurred can be significant as well.

We found a chemical consisting of Japanese nanotechnology and obtained the exclusive rights for its application in Mexico and named it Cleanlux. This is a self-cleaning product: once applied on a solar panel, it will last for the module’s entire life cycle of over 20 years. The chemical creates a photocatalytic reaction through natural light, which breaks down organic compounds and purifies the air around the module: 2m² on the average panel cleans 40m³ of air per hour next to the energy it generates. It creates a film of humidity that prevents pollution and dirt from sticking to the panel. When it rains, it generates a superhydrophobic surface, which repels raindrops and activates the self-cleaning properties.

Since 2015, we have installed many panels with Cleanlux applied to them. Most of our clients request it from the beginning. There are many added benefits to not having to think about cleaning the panels at all, which can cost up to 10 percent of the total investment per year. It is an attractive solution for domestic users, industrial systems and even for our competitors.

 

Q: How did the company come to implement storage options in its solutions?

A: Battery storage as a basis for hybrid systems has been a trending topic for the past four years. Mexico is lagging behind but the appeal of storage is clear. The founders of the company are mechatronic engineers, so we are fans of technology. ABB, which has sold the division to FIMER, were pioneers in this area. We chose to integrate its solutions for our own hybrid systems, adapting ABB’s lithium solution from European to Mexican standards. This has increased interest on the battery front.

Greenlux now incorporates more brands in its hybrid solutions, such as Huawei and Tesla. Batteries can be used as insurance against the government’s shifting policies because they make systems self-sufficient. It is a good time for battery companies to enter Mexico.

 

Q: How has Greenlux adapted its projections due to the pandemic and what are the milestones the company aims to achieve in 2020-21?

A: The projections for this year have changed significantly, just as they have for other companies. Adapting to the new normality has been tough. Understandably, many investment decisions have been put on hold, which has led Greenlux to change its expectations as well. We began working from home as much as possible. Using 3D renders on top of our own drone footage was one of the ways we innovated.

Since implementing these adaptations, our development has been interesting. Both our domestic and C&I segments have grown compared to 2019. We convinced many clients of the benefit solar brings and arranged suitable financing for them. We are expecting to install 5 to 6MW of projects by the end of 2020, which will be finalized by March 2021. We are working on the creation of the National Chamber of Energy Industry (PROCNIA), an industrial chamber for the energy sector. The chamber will be focused on both renewables and oil and gas. We have around 115 key actors on board already, which we hope to expand. We hope that all our actions will help us achieve overall growth for 2020.

Greenlux is a Mexican company focused on the design and implementation of solar systems for the domestic and industrial segments. It offers a variety of solutions and services to different clients in the country.

Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst