Julian Willenbrock
Co-Founder and CEO
Enlight
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View from the Top

Putting Homes on the Solar System

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 13:31

Q: What are the paradigms Enlight had to break when entering the Mexican market?

A: We started operations in Mexico with German technology and trained local staff on how solar panels work and how to install them properly. We have shifted the company’s focus onto the residential and small commercial markets, which have huge potential here in Mexico. One of the largest hurdles we encountered was that the vast majority of the population did not know how solar power worked and was unaware of the benefits that it could bring. There are various technical challenges that arise from catering to these markets. It is more demanding to develop a hundred projects of 5kW systems for homes than building one 500kW project for an industrial plant. There are ample benefits from converting to solar power but few businesses or homes have the ability to make such a large initial investment.

Q: What is the importance of establishing a unique method of financing?

A: Within the residential market, companies must find more creative ways to differentiate themselves apart from offering financing alternatives. All energy companies must have various forms of financing to be successful in the market and if the company does not offer these services, it cannot compete. At first when we were developing our financing system we began by using SOFOMES, which led us to create our own financial vehicles, as well as solar leases that adapted to the unique needs of our customers. Our clients make a monthly fixed payment for the lease and pay a monthly electricity bill according to how much they use, which is a lower amount than what they used to pay before installing the solar system. Solar costs are continuously dropping, especially with rising electricity tariffs, and we can guarantee the energy production of our systems every year.

Q: How does Enlight’s value proposition differ from other solar companies?

A: Over the years, we have learned that focusing on the financing aspect of solar energy alone and outsourcing the technical aspects, such as installations and system integration, drastically elevates the risk for both the company and the client. Each roof and project is different, which creates even more hurdles since Mexico does not necessarily have the qualified human capital to install and maintain these types of systems. Enlight’s customers can log onto our platform and monitor the results of the systems from any mobile device or computer. They can find energy production indicators and levels of consumption that can help them understand how they can reduce their monthly energy costs.

Q: What role is Enlight playing in providing rural communities with energy?

A: We have launched a couple of social projects to bring light to rural communities. We worked closely with Iluméxico to develop a program called “Refiere y Ayuda” as a way to reduce the number of people who do not have access to light. Around 3 million Mexicans do not have access to electricity in their homes and we believe that it is our duty as a solar company to help these communities. Companies usually establish a referral program in which they give their clients gift cards or other monetary rewards. Instead of following the traditional system, we decided it would have a greater impact if we used that money to donate solar systems to these communities. We are also part of another program in which we assist our larger clients in the completion of their own social development projects. We have worked with industrial parks and have participated in their social projects. Vesta has its own Adopt a School program and we participate by installing our solar panels in various public schools around the nation.

Q: What is the outlook for Enlight and other solar energy providers in Mexico?

A: We will continue our search for capital in the next few years. Last year, we partnered with venture capital fund ALLVP and we are looking for new investors to help us expand our reach. Investors are highly interested in Enlight, especially because we have continuously exceeded our quarterly growth. We are growing at a rate of 50 percent per quarter. The solar market is expanding rapidly and will continue to do so in the coming years.