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When Waiting for Technology Pays Off

Alejandro Cobos - Notus Energía México


Wed, 02/21/2018 - 13:54

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Q: How does NOTUS Energía México provide value to the Mexican wind-energy market?

A: NOTUS Energía México, launched in 2014, is a unit of Germany’s NOTUS Energy, which provides a percentage of the company’s capitalization and the quality seal for the projects as a well-known company in Europe. The remaining percentage is from a Mexican investor who provides both capital and expertise in the engineering and construction business. The support of the Mexican investor has imparted added value, as it has worked in the construction of wind parks for different utilities in the states of Oaxaca, Jalisco, San Luis Potosi, Nayarit and Zacatecas. 
NOTUS Energía México is a company that knows how to develop projects with excellent quality and in a short time. This is made possible by our simple structure and lack of bureaucracy that provides swift decision-making. 

Q: What areas of opportunity is NOTUS Energía México targeting to develop wind projects?

A: We are focusing on the center and northern regions of Mexico. Although these areas may not have the strong winds of places like Oaxaca, they have many different virtues. A perfect example is the Piedras Negras project, on which we have been working for over two years. We are now pushing this project to enter the ready-to-build stage. When developers research potential areas for their projects, they tend to reach for a wind atlas and look for areas where wind velocities exceed 7.5mls per second. In our experience it is not enough to have high-velocity wind. The electric and civil infrastructure must be easily accessible to make a project feasible. If these elements are too far away from the development area, the resulting cost may actually put the project in jeopardy. Social and environmental issues are also extremely important for us and we take them into account from the outset of the project.

From the first moment we put it in our potential projects portfolio, we knew that the Piedras Negras area had low winds but we also knew it had a high wind density and vertical wind shear comparable to Yucatan. Because the project is located 3km away from an interconnection point and there are no people living anywhere close, we also recognized that the required civil construction, such as access roads, would be minimal and easy to do.

When we started planning that project, we did estimations with turbines for class 3 winds that were not yet available in the market, but we knew they would come. Now those turbines are available and they fit the project perfectly. With these turbines, we are reaching plant factors above 40 percent with low winds, which mirrors to a fault our financial model. NOTUS Energy was extremely supportive of our vision. When we take a project like this to off-takers, usually their first question is about the wind velocity or the EOH, rather than the ROI. This shows a lack of vision regarding the project as a whole but we are paving the way in Mexico, always going one step further.

Q: What interest does NOTUS Energía México have in following the path of its German parent?

A: Even though NOTUS Energy is a developer, EPC and operator, in Mexico we decided to enter the market solely as developers as a first step. This has given us more flexibility and allowed us to be technology agnostics, which are both strong assets in the competitive Mexican market.

We are in the process of capitalizing the company, taking steps to be less dependent on Germany. We are looking to commercialize our ongoing projects in the next two years. After that, we will look at working on projects through a joint-venture scheme for another three to five years. Finally, in 10 years we expect to be able to follow the German business model in which we become the developer, EPC and operator. Our initial goal will be 20-30MW projects, but we hope to reach a large project eventually. I believe it is a realistic and achievable vision for the short, medium and long terms.

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