Trail Blazer Ramps up as Sector GrowsWed, 02/22/2017 - 15:26
In the past 15 years, China has spawned a wave of solar energy companies that are now blazing a trail in international markets. Jinko Solar, the third largest PV modules supplier in the world by capacity, is the name with the strongest presence in the Mexican market and the company says the sector has the potential to become the biggest in Latin America. “In the upcoming years, we expect Mexico to become the largest solar market in Latin America, so we have plans to continue investing heavily in the country, expanding our resources while promoting our products and services,” says Alberto Cuter, General Manager Latin America of Jinko Solar
Cuter has also identified challenges that make advancement difficult. “In Mexico, there is a 15 percent tax on imported solar panels that represents a barrier to the expansion of solar energy, particularly in the case of distributed generation projects. We are designing a strategy to overcome this challenge without affecting our final customers,” he says.
“It is still unclear if the winners of the tender will be exempt from the imported panel tax, as they might still be considered in the Mexican Sectorial Promotion Program (PROSEC),” he adds. “Before making any important investment, companies must understand the stability and functioning of the local regulation."
The company installed around 50MW of capacity in 2015, which represents around 50 percent of the country’s market share, according to Cuter, which he says is an indicator of the Mexican market’s business potential. The results of CFE’s first power auction should also increase Jinko Solar’s after the company’s division in charge of project development was awarded three projects totaling 188MWAC of new solar capacity. Moreover, Jinko Solar’s panels will be used on projects by the auction’s other winners, with the company signing contracts equal to 1GW. “We are covering 75 percent of the total solar capacity that was allocated in the bidding round. In the next tenders, we expect to achieve similar results because we have built trust with our customers and we have a great local team,” says Cuter.
Like many others in the industry, Cuter was surprised by the results achieved by solar energy in the auction, qualifying them as a turning point for the industry. “The use of innovative business models was crucial for lowering the costs of solar energy and we feel proud to have helped our clients develop competitive proposals for the tender by providing highquality technology at affordable prices,” says Cuter
Jinko Solar was one of the first companies to manufacture 1,500V PV panels, which helped to lower BoP costs of utility-scale solar parks. As Cuter explains, “raising the peak voltage of the modules by 10V decreases about 1.5 percent of the total utility-scale project cost, a significant amount considering the record-low prices reached in recent international tenders. By reducing the project’s CAPEX, we have contributed to making financial models more affordable for solar energy projects.” Additionally, Jinko Solar’s modules offer efficiencies of over 17 percent, one of the best power generation rates in the market
Besides utility projects, Jinko Solar sees great potential in Mexico’s DG sector and the local team is working to capitalize on that. “We are investing in promoting the products and services we have in this sector, carrying out an important marketing campaign addressing potential customers willing to develop small and medium-scale solar energy projects,” he says. The company’s 2015 and 2016 results in addition to its strong market value allow Cuter to dream big. “At the moment, our main goal is to maintain the 50 percent share that we currently have in the Mexican market. This target is highly ambitious but we are confident we can do it.”