News Article

Energy Efficiency, System Thinking, and Distributed Renewable

Thu, 05/19/2016 - 15:39

César Contreras, the Coordinator of Advisors of the Undersecretary for Planning and Energy Transition, began with a presentation explaining the impact of Mexico's energy transition on urban sustainability, present environmental situation in Mexico, and how the Energy Reform should contribute to reduce global warming. “The reform will lead to greater resources thanks to investments and new markets  generating competition. Furthermore, a reduction in harmful emissions will happen following further integration of renewable energy sources,” said Contreras. Through diagnoses in 32 different states, the Ministry of Energy has identified several ways to contribute to specific regions, commented Contreras, and to investigate and integrate new technologies into the country’s energy supply.

He moved on to introduce Alejandro Peraza, Head of the Electric Systems Unit at CRE, who opened the panel on Energy efficiency, system thinking, and distributed renewable energy generation explaining the importance of having laws that promote sustainability. “Good news”, he began, “industrial processes in energy sector are evolving, and we are seeing distributed energy generation for each person’s individual consumption.” Distributed generation in Mexico is quickly gaining ground, growing 100% every year that it has been further implemented. This means that energy has become more reasonably priced, and more widely accessible, said Peraza. “Abundant solar generation of electricity is available in zones across the city, and recent developments have been satisfactory. CRE are aiming to produce Intelligent Electric Networks (REI) to increase efficiency in electric systems and distribution, and to reduce losses.”

Vladimir Sosa, PAESE Coordinator at CFE, commented on the systemic value of smart cities. He also touched on the idea of REI and distributed generation. CFE is substituting expensive and damaging energy sources for cheaper, more competitive energy sources. The power company is also working to reduce technical and non-technical losses. The latter includes reducing electricity being stolen through illegal adapters on wires, and advising those that are not aware that they are using an illegal electricity source in this way before helping them connect legally. “Within the city and with the support of the Ministry of Economy, CFE is implementing a program to promote electric cars and charging points, ultimately to reduce carbon emissions. We must ‘electrify’ the city, while increasing cleanliness of fuel generation,” Sosa states.

Pierre Comptdaer, President & Director General of ABB Mexico and Central America, succinctly presented the problems ABB faces in terms of energy and electricity to create a better world. “The transmission of energy must be made more efficient, as losses occur during transmission,” he told the audience. “New windfarms have been created in Mexico, but the transmission of this energy must be designed with technical losses in mind.” In terms of water, Comptdaer told us that 50% to 60% of losses are through leaks. ABB has technology to measure and supervise water sources, to help detect leaks, and Comptdaer commented on his company’s developments to improve engine efficiency in the automotive industry. However, he pointed out that only 10% of engines are transmissions engines, thus they are less efficient. “We presented a smart sensor that can be installed in any motor to detect temperature and efficiency, to upload information to a cloud for us to compile new technology needs.” Chargers must be made faster, he urged, therefore ABB developed a charger that loads in 15-30 minutes, which has already been installed along Omnibus electric bus networks in Europe.

Santiago Desentis, Vice President of Sales at SolarCity Mexico, cited Henry Ford who was called crazy for his automotive invention. “SolarCity is not afraid to create new inventions that may seem unreal,” he said. Technology advances has allowed his company to reach Mexico with more reasonable distributed generation technologies, and create a policy that will promote long-term investments in this system that reduces energy loss. “We have been working with several authorities to install systems amounting to 4GW, which are operating in houses in California thanks to a small generation network”. Desentis stated the need for government policy to support companies that are investigating electricity alternatives. “CFE’s prices are heavily subsidized, which means that it is much more difficult to compete. An open market would allow the market to grow in participants, and push all players to become more efficient,” he told.

Sosa spoke for CFE, pointing out that the utility company cannot change the electricity tariffs. The information surrounding natural monopolies shows that there is plenty of competition in distributed generation. It presents an interesting market, he said, meaning the consumer gains, as competition reduces prices. Policies will include increasing public stations, which are being installed in supermarkets, universities, and public spaces. Although these would be much cheaper than gasoline, the cost will be covered by the hosting establishments. The second focus will be on installing gages so that electric car users will be able to charge their vehicles without incurring extra costs on their electricity bill.