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Insight

Supporting Green Policies Creates Opportunities in Solar Sector

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 13:45

Great strides have been made in the implementation of renewable energies; yet, existing fossil fuel infrastructure remains an economic barrier, hindering more rapid progress for the industry. Rodolfo Martínez, Director General of BUTECSA, a company specializing in thermal and PV energy generation, echoes this belief. “The Reform should have gone beyond oil by promoting energy diversification and giving renewables a fundamental position.” Although much furor and controversy has enveloped the oil and gas industry, Martínez concedes that the energy sector has some shades of green to look forward to. One promising technology stands out from the crowd, and that is solar thermal energy, which harnesses solar energy to generate either heat or electricity. “The government has promoted the acquisition of efficient refrigerators and lightbulbs. Why is the same not being done for solar thermal equipment?” The search for an answer to this question has led Martínez and BUTECSA to take matters into their own hands.

Competition is fierce in the thermal energy sector, as players must contend with CNG, LPG, diesel, and fuel oil. “In industries such as hotels, the use of LPG prevails, although natural gas is becoming popular. Mexico does not have enough refining capacity, thus 30-40% of LPG has to be imported,” Martínez explains. BUTECSA has taken on an intriguing approach to gaining more market share by targeting the commercial and industrial segments. So far, the company has been involved in projects with hospitals, hotels, correctional facilities, sports clubs, and diverse industries. “We are working with La Raza hospital, where we will provide solar powered boilers to heat up 50,000L per day. Due to our experience, ROI is possible after three to five years, which is an attractive period,” he states. BUTECSA is working alongside IMSS in the installation of thermal and PV systems in new hospitals, as an effort by the institute to reduce operation costs.

Some players content themselves with simply importing existing technologies and distributing them across Mexico, but BUTECSA promotes innovative techniques in both its PV and thermal systems. “We are now implementing new welding techniques based on plastic materials that are replacing the use of copper in thermal equipment. We are also using copper tubes and sockets that do not need tin or highly polluting lead.” These innovations will benefit developers seeking greater LEED ranking, since cold pressed copper materials are a better alternative.