Smart Software, Efficient Trackers Add to Solar SuccessBy MBN Staff | Wed, 05/27/2020 - 08:58
Q: What were your top achievements in 2019 and what are your near-term goals?
A: 2019 was a great year for Nextracker as we were able to capitalize on the sustained growth we have enjoyed every year. In Mexico, Nextracker is a market leader with close to 21% percent market share. We have more than 15 clients, and we are surpassing 4,000MW installed. We also were busy with projects in Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
Our strategy for 2020 is to continue working with the same fervor. Mexico is an important market for us and our entire team is here. I think we will reach the company’s 2020 target during the first quarter of the year. This means doubling capacity (from 250MW a week in 2019 to 500MW in 2020). To avoid tariffs imposed by the US, we have developed a robust supply chain including but not limited to Portugal, China, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India, Turkey and Mexico.
For this year, the objective is to consolidate projects that we have been working on in Chile for the past seven years. Another goal is to introduce other products more aggressively into the market, such as our TrueCapture™ and NX Navigator™ smart control and monitoring software products. In terms of global adoption, TrueCapture has been successfully implemented in the US, Australia, Europe, and Latin America with over 3 gigawatts of deployment. We have also launched the NX Gemini tracker, which has the highest power density of any tracker on the market today. We’re receiving solid demand for this two-in-portrait tracker system in Mexico.
Q: What do you consider your main achievement in Mexico?
A: We value our accomplishments with our strategic partnerships. Our technology has strategic added value for our customers that goes beyond hardware. We have services such as our PowerworX training course which is educating the next generation of solar installers globally – in fact, we’ve now trained close to 1,000 solar installers around the globe, many of whom contributed to our current 4 gigawatts of installed base that I mentioned earlier. Our expert remote and on-the ground construction stage services greatly impact the life cycle and lifetime of our projects. Our goal is always to maintain an enduring relationship with project owners. But really it comes down to the relationships we’ve built over time and our long-term cost-reduction, performance-based offerings such our optimized bifacial solar trackers and software and control systems
Latin America is a very competitive market, with low costs and no subsidies. In spite of this, we continue to win business with leading solar developers because they trust us to deliver – to deliver on-time and with high value. As a holistic PV systems provider to include the smart solar tracker system, we have a broader business vision that focuses on being aware of the priorities of our customers.
Q: How is human talent integrated into the company’s operations?
A: Human talent is an essential resource for the company, and our product is backed by a highly qualified team. The Nextracker team in Mexico is mainly made up of local talent working together with international specialists. Similarly, we rely on our teams located in various parts of the world and maintain a continuous workflow. Also, because our product evolves very fast, the training process never stops.
Q: Which project in Mexico highlights the company’s capabilities and why?
A: Villanueva Solar Park is the largest solar project in Latin America (828 MW), and it is our flagship project. We have been working on this project for the past two years. In that time, we have carried out other projects, perhaps not as large as Villanueva, but they also demonstrate the company's capabilities in the face of projects with a higher level of complexity. Guajiro Park, located in Hidalgo for example, is a plant that requires greater technical adaptability due to its mountainous location. Guajiro represents the type of project that requires a tracker like ours with higher slope tolerances and ability to adapt to geological challenges. In this project, we were able to implement our TrueCapture technology, which allows us to eliminate shadows among the panels by installing trackers that change their angles during the day – in addition to providing greater production output due to our proprietary smart tracking algorithms.
Q: What impact have you seen from the latest modifications to the regulatory framework for the energy market?
A: The changes brought about by the current administration, with respect to the issue of the cancellation of public auctions, had a significant impact on the market because companies now do not have that mechanism to buy clean and cheap energy. This situation caused many companies to start turning to other markets, such as PPPs, bilateral agreements and wholesale markets. There was a decrease in the number of projects developed but the market is still very active.
Q: What can Mexico learn from other global energy markets to remain competitive?
A: It is important to follow the example of collaboration between the private and public sectors that exists in other markets, where the public sector keeps its private counterpart informed, since the objectives of the two sectors do not conflict for the most part. Similarly, the issue of storage is pending, and it is necessary to find a solution for the congestion of distribution networks in some areas of the country. In general, a less political and more pragmatic approach to renewable energy should be adopted.
Nextracker, a Flex company, delivers market-leading smart solar PV and storage system solutions. Its experience is in designing, building, selling and operating solar and storage components, systems and power plants around the world.