Andrès Flores
Business Development Manager
General Cable Latin America
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View from the Top

Solutions for Preventing Losses in Transmission Lines

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 13:44

Q: What are the most important new opportunities that General Cable has detected in the Mexican energy market?

A: The Mexican market is always evolving and changing, and it is clear the Energy Reform will create opportunities that will change the way we look at business in the energy sector. CFE has been one of our most important customers for a few years now. Four years ago, we started to serve the renewable energy sector, especially wind farms. Since then, we have been pursuing renewables as hard as we can, and wind and solar will keep on providing us with business. We see a lot of opportunities in the construction of new transmission infrastructure, which is why we expanded our Mexican plant for transmission lines two years ago. We foresee market growth in new transmission lines and the reconductoring of power lines to improve transmission capacity, and have been focusing on providing solutions to CFE and engineering firms to enable it to use existing towers and infrastructure to increase transmission capacity through reconductoring.

Q: Which of your products could increase efficiency in high-voltage transmission,where most losses occur?

A: We can lower or raise the temperatures that the cables can withstand, as this will help transmit more power without losing energy in the process. We use well-established hightension, low-sag cables that are being gradually brought into Mexico. CFE knows that our solutions allow it to increase capacity and reduce losses along transmission lines. We have been invited to join CFE’s committees for transmission lines and for new transmission line technology. There is no written norm or standard for transmission lines due to the amount of technologies that exist. However, CFE is trying to collect as much knowledge as it can from manufacturers to set technology standards in the future.

Q: What innovations has General Cable made in order to address common problems related to transmission infrastructure maintenance challenges?

A: To optimize maintenance throughout the lifecycle of transmission infrastructure, it is essential to ensure that the same towers can be used and to carry out reconductoring. CFE is looking for technologies to ensure it does not need to change urban plans or close streets to build anew underground line, thereby minimizing environmental and social costs. For underground lines, CFE is looking to work with firms that can provide longer cable lengths and guarantee fewer losses so that CFE does not have to dig many pits and disrupt people’s lives.

In the renewable energy domain, we work with generator manufacturers that are specialized in minimizing power losses and downtime. For example, we install torsionable cables inside wind turbines that can turn and not break. We also work on underground grids that connect generators and are built locally in Mexico. We will release a solution in 2014 that will help underground grids be installed faster and be more environmentally friendly.

Q: What added value can your specific cables for different types of power generation plants provide?

A: It depends on which energy source is concerned. The Laguna Verde nuclear plant installed our cables during its expansion a few years ago. That added value was to ensure fewer losses since our cables were designed to withstand the nuclear environment within the reactor. Geothermal plants need cables that can withstand high temperatures, so we make sure that the chemical composition of the cables is designed to last longer under such conditions. Normally, a good cable in an ordinary house can last 30 years. We want our cables to last the same amount of time, wherever they are installed.

Q: How can Mexico take full advantage of General Cable’s global expertise and broad product portfolio?

A: Being a global company, it is hard to bring all the technology we possess to a specific country like Mexico. But we work very hard so each country within the world of General Cable can leverage the entire group’s knowledge and avoid mistakes made elsewhere. We try to provide custom-made solutions for our Mexican clients, using what we have learned around the world, either in manufacturing or in customer solutions. General Cable recently created a Latin America division, which allows us to concentrate more specifically on the needs of this important market. Despite opportunities in Peru and Chile, Mexico and Brazil offer the major growth opportunities in this region.