Dessire Colina
Director General
Promotora Energética E3
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Insight

Rein in Pollution with Natural Gas

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 13:19

The Energy Reform brought with it the need for companies to revisit their business strategies and in an ever-changing industry, the necessity for diversification and adaptability have become crucial factors for success, says Dessire Colina, Director General of Promotora Energética E3.

In the case of Promotora Energética E3, a company specialized in the development of power projects, including vehicular natural gas, industrial natural gas power generation and assessment for energy projects, the five-year plan for the national pipeline system reduced the demand for virtual pipelines, which had been an important division of the company. The attractiveness of fuel oil resulting from low oil prices also impacted the demand for natural gas on wheels.

Colina says companies should consider these changes a challenge to renew their strategy, diversify their business portfolio and tackle more promising applications for natural gas. “To cope with these changing conditions, we are diversifying our portfolio by strengthening our share in vehicular applications, a sector that will benefit from the new Hydrocarbons Law that allows multimodal gas stations,” she says. “Increasing the availability of vehicular natural gas in the country will not only improve the sector’s competitiveness but also have a positive impact on the air quality of cities.”

This application for natural gas comes at the perfect time as pollution is a major problem for Mexico. According to the Mexican Competitiveness Institute (IMCO) between 2010 and 2013, pollution cost Mexico over US$7 billion in health expenditures and productivity losses. Early in 2016 pollution-related disturbances peaked when Mexico City’s government was forced to extend the implementation of the “No Driving Day” Program (Hoy No Circula) for three months, forcing people to seek alternative transportation means and pushing city officials to face the need for cleaner energy sources, such as green public transportation fueled by natural gas. Promotora Energética E3 specializes in the development of natural gas projects for vehicular and industrial applications. The company offers integral solutions, including O&M, business development and project management. It is the exclusive distributor in the country for Clean Energy Compression, a leading manufacturer of compressed natural gas (CNG) solutions. The alliance has opened several doors for the company. “We have gone from having zero equipment installed in 2011 to holding 70 percent of the market share, particularly in industrial applications where we have installed 80 percent of the total compressed natural gas equipment currently under operation. Regarding vehicular use, we are working in 60 percent of the country’s natural gas stations.”

Colina says the environmental benefits from natural gas versus other fossil fuels should be supported by stricter environmental regulations and a larger effort between governments and the private sector to promote the use of gas-fueled vehicles along with a large investment in multimodal stations to create the infrastructure necessary for this technology. The feasibility of natural gas for vehicular use can already be observed in Mexico. The first natural gas station in Queretaro, an initiative by Natgas with the support of Promotora Energética E3, illustrates the potential for successful collaboration between the private and public sectors.

The initiative was born as a joint effort to improve Queretaro’s air quality while offering citizens an affordable, safe and more sustainable mobility option. “Natgas’ first compression station uses Clean Energy Compression equipment sold and installed by us, which also includes aftersales services,” Colina says. “The capacity of the first station was surpassed by demand in six months, leading to the opening of a second service station.”

Currently, only 4,800 vehicles are running on natural gas in the country, a drop in the sea when compared with the 2.3 million in Argentina, which has the largest natural-gas fleet in Latin America. But Mexico’s fleet of almost 40 million vehicles creates an outstanding business opportunity for vehicular natural gas.