Armando de la Torre
Director General
View from the Top

Smart Solutions Go After Nontechnical Losses

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 15:12

Q: What opportunities do you see for integrating IT solutions into Mexico’s energy sector and what is your major contribution in this area?

A: We have seen many opportunities to incorporate our technology into energy generation, distribution and commercialization, covering both electricity and the oil and gas industries. Our meter solutions can help control energy fluctuations in a variety of industries and help understand consumption patterns. Smart Grid is a term frequently associated with the power grid but it can also be used for gas and water networks.

All these systems use IT to monitor consumption and detect and prevent leaks with a platform that can provide information for rapid decision-making. Private companies such as Vitro are innovating in Mexico. They are beginning to apply initiatives that capture and measure this information holistically, rather than monitoring every machine or operation. Our company is helping them improve their connectivity infrastructure and develop a platform that can collect, display and analyze information to improve decision-making.

Q: What technological advantages do ho1a’s smart meters offer over the competition?

A: CFE expects nontechnical losses to drop to 10 or 11 percent in 2017, from 16 percent in 2012, thanks to smart meters. Nontechnical losses cost CFE nearly MX$27,500 million in 2015. We secured four contracts for US$127.6 million to install 340,000 meters in different regions including Mexico City, the northeast, northwest and the Gulf of Mexico between 2014 and 2015, which led to CFE invoicing 10-16 percent more. We won these tenders by presenting highly technical offers at a price that is below CFE’s maximum budget. Moreover, our experience and relationship with committed and skilled suppliers positively influenced our participation in that project.

Q: What has been the main challenge you have faced to promote smart devices in Mexico?

A: The lack of consumer awareness in the energy sector has been a tough hurdle. The Energy Reform has helped us overcome the challenge, especially increasing interest in clean energy sectors such as solar and wind. More and more clients are seeing an opportunity to study their consumption patterns and find realistic solutions. But to do this, we need investment in projects that help the public sector as much as the private. Still, the main barrier is insufficient understanding. With CFE’s project, our goal is to recover 113GWh/year in total. We have achieved 40 percent of that objective, making this a perfectly viable project financially for investors.

Q: How is technology and innovation evolving in Mexico?

A: Although governmental reforms intend to promote R&D in our country and the area has advanced in recent years, there is still plenty to be done. The World Bank says that Mexico only invests 0.5 percent of GDP in science and technology, while other countries channel between 1.5 percent and 3.8 percent into innovation. Mexico is at a decisive point for R&D wherein industries including the energy sector are choosing to invest more in IT to strengthen operations, improve productivity and their service offering and to minimize overheads. Our responsibility as leaders and businessmen is to promote innovation in developing industries to encourage company growth.

Q: What new projects do you hope to develop in 2017?

A: We will continue to work with CFE to keep adding value for its users, measuring its consumption patterns to help them control their own energy use. We also intend to continue working with natural gas and water companies to improve their measurement systems and their customer service with accurate consumption records. Through these actions, we hope to reduce waste and maximize their operations. A priority is encouraging any solution that helps Mexico become more competitive in technology by using Big Data and data analysis integrated into the IoT.