Massimo Ferrani
Director General
Jema Energy Mexico

Quality and Stability for the Grid

Fri, 02/01/2019 - 12:49

As Mexico prepares to inject close to 9GW of clean energy installed capacity resulting from the long-term electricity auctions, the country’s grid must be strengthened to secure the reliability and energy quality needed at its main consumption points. “Mexico’s renewable energy market requires solutions for dynamic power regulation for renewable energy plants, to strengthen the quality and stability of the country’s electricity grid,” says Massimo Ferrarini, Director General of Jema Energy Mexico.
Jema Energy, a Spanish subsidiary of Grupo Irizar, designs and manufactures innovative high-tech solutions, such as static-power converters for renewable energy and conventional power plants and special power supply to research laboratories. It entered the long-term electricity auction PV projects with manufacturing of power-conversion equipment for power-generation plants.
But Ferrarini says the company is not limited to one business segment; it closely follows industry trends to react quickly to market needs. “Following the publication of the basic supply new tariff calculation methodology in November 2017, we developed peak-shaving renewable energy solutions customized for each client,” he says. “This is an in-house technology to deplete demand peaks that heavily impact fixed-cost concepts in the electricity bill with the load and distribution charges. In some instances, these fixed costs represent up to 80 percent of the bill.”
Jema Energy was awarded several contracts for the supply of power conversion units for PV projects won in the long-term energy auctions, for more than 800MW. “This achievement made us a reference manufacturer in the market,” says Ferrarini. The projects, between 60MW and 200MW each, developed mainly by the Spanish X-Elio and the French ENGIE, are located in the states of Guanajuato, Morelos, Puebla, Chihuahua, Aguascalientes and Sonora.
Ferrarini says reliability and quality were key factors in winning the contracts. “These contracts are the result of our step-by-step approach and long-standing knowledge of Mexico’s energy market,” he says. Jema Energy has been present in Mexico for 20 years, meaning it has a broad understanding of Mexico’s PV technology in the country prior to the Energy Reform. “Our policy was not to enter the market at the lowest price but with the best solutions for every project,” he continues. “We transmit reliability in our market expertise and provide adequate, tailor-made solutions and knowledge of the compliance requirements of interconnection to the Mexican grid.”
As an expert in the intricacies of Mexico’s electricity industry, Ferrarini offers some suggestions to the new administration to continue the success of the Energy Reform. “The fundamental point is to continue investing in the direction the Energy Reform has taken, primarily with renewable energy,” he says. The second important point is electricity tariff price stability due to the important fluctuations seen in the tariff levels and new calculation methodologies throughout 2018. “While it was an inevitable change with new Basic Supply Tariffs, implementation could be much more gradual and fine-tuned,” he says. “Drastic variations in electricity tariffs generate distrust among market players.”
Third, he believes it would be beneficial to implement measures to foster the real operation of the wholesale electricity market, which is operating intermittently. “It should be strengthened to multiply transactions and normalize liquidity levels,” he explains. “The industry can only be as efficient, cost-effective and successful as the regulatory framework allows.”
Given Jema Energy's long history in the country, Ferrarini has witnessed first-hand the evolution in Mexico’s electricity market since 2013, particularly with the approval of the Energy Reform, the requirements for network interconnection and its manuals, the publication of basic supply rates and the evolution of the wholesale electricity market. At present, Ferrarini says Mexico is one of the most important markets for the company’s energy business and that opens the doors to other strategic markets in the region such as the US and Central America. “Central America for example, requires applications similar to those in the Mexican market, such as energy storage solutions for grid-connected and isolated systems,” he says.