Technical Advisory, Inspection: Foundations of Fruitful ROIBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 11:48
Q: How important is Mexico in OCA Global’s international portfolio?
AG: We are active in over 50 countries. We offer testing, inspection, certification and training services as a fully independent third-party consultant. OCA Global functions as a bridge between the financial and technical elements of an asset, as we know how to translate megawatts into dollars.
Due to its geographic location and as one of the largest economies in Latin America, Mexico generates many opportunities to provide the services that OCA Global is known for. In Mexico, we can diversify various areas of our business and bring this diversification to other countries on the continent. This makes the country essential to our group, which is of Spanish origin. Most of our structure and operations are outside of Spain, so Latin America in general is very important to us.
Q: How does OCA Global apply its international experience to help clients reach a higher level of efficiency?
RS: OCA Global has supported over 1,000 renewable energy projects across the world, totaling 25GW. This has allowed us to gain experience from different countries, technologies and regulatory frameworks, which we have distilled into global best practices. One of our success stories is Abengoa Solar, the renewable energy project that pioneered the development of global energy. Our work with companies in this area ensures we have excellent experience in the field and can add value to disruptive projects, including unconventional technologies, such as floating solar, recently completed in Afghanistan.
We also have experience supporting governmental policies and in the creation of regulation. An important example of this is our work with the Argentinian government to make its energy sector greener, resulting in a National Energy Efficiency Action Plan.
Q: What are your most requested services?
AG: OCA Global is working to obtain various accreditations to perform inspections and laboratory testing and analysis. We are executing a large contract through vendor inspections, where we inspect manufactured equipment for quality assurance. This is an important step that helps companies to ensure that the equipment they buy is up to the requested standard technically and in terms of quality. This type of inspection is often required in the energy sector and for on-site laboratory services that can solve mechanical and electrical issues encountered in project development.
Q: How is OCA Global adapting these solutions to the demand created by the uncertainty in Mexico’s energy industry?
RS: Private players in the energy sector acknowledge that the situation has changed for them. The environment has become difficult, and they are facing tumultuous times. However, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. We believe these challenges are driving the energy industry to look for improvements, with companies focused on deeper specialization and looking for viable alternatives to ensure that assets perform optimally. From this perspective, the challenges the sector must face ensure it specializes even further. In the short term, we believe that Mexico can export the knowledge it has already gained in this area and will continue with its leading status in the renewable energy industry.
Q: How has the company adapted its operations to the pandemic, where getting staff to specific locations has become a challenge?
AG: OCA Global was already actively studying technologies for remote inspections and audits, which clients can also use to keep an eye on their operations. The global pandemic has simply accelerated this process. Nevertheless, our on-site activities have not been hindered all that much. The company often works with local experts who can easily travel within the borders of their own countries and attend clients where needed. All we needed to do was to increase certain security measures to ensure everyone was safe and supported.
Q: What are some of the main issues the company identifies in its inspection of renewable energy projects?
RS: Without a proper assessment, power plants can suffer significant energy losses due to cumulative error. This failure is frequent but it can be prevented (or corrected) with quality control inspections and supervision. For example, solar modules can suffer different failures, like micro cracks, hot spots and PID (degradation). If operators do not control these from the beginning, they will eventually have a big impact on how much energy the power plant will produce.
Adequate vendor inspection, due diligence, yield assessment, technical inspection, project acceptance, among other processes, are essential to guarantee the expected ROI. We know how equipment is manufactured, built and operated, which has allowed us to anticipate some of the drawbacks that could occur.
Q: How does the company advise project developers to ensure a successful social approach?
AG: OCA Global always tries to incorporate locals into our staff whenever possible. We want to involve the communities of nearby projects. A network of local companies helps us to respond faster too. When we assess companies on their potential social impact, we believe that a similar approach is beneficial. If they work together with communities and involve them in efforts to improve health, safety and security, the project can share its benefits and ensure success. Social issues can derail projects entirely, after all. We want to see developers working hand in hand with communities so they both can benefit from the good relationship between the parties.
Q: What are the company’s goals for the rest of 2021 and 2022?
AG: For 2021, we have projected 35 percent revenue growth compared to 2020 and are on track to achieve this, although we have had to adapt our offering somewhat to the changing situation. We have not yet fully determined our goals for 2022 but we do know that we would like to grow another 30 percent compared to 2021. Furthermore, in our efforts to diversify our portfolio, we are waiting to receive four accreditations related to laboratory and inspection services. Our goal is to gain two of these before the end of 2021. In the year to come, we also want to get accredited in topics surrounding the environment and sustainability, as well as inspection services for other economic sectors outside of energy.
OCA Global is an internationally-minded Spanish corporate group specialized in testing, inspection, certification and training services related to quality, environmental, safety, health and corporate social responsibility issues across the world’s most important industries.