Soltec Power Holdings is continuously studying and investing in innovation to offer the best products to the market. In 2020 we introduced our new SF8 tracker, under the slogan "designed for greatness".
COVID-19 & Looking Ahead to 2021 and Beyond, Insights from Soltec
Q&A with Sergio López, General Manager | Soltec Industrial
Tell us about yourself and your company
Soltec Power Holdings is a leading company specialising in integrated solar photovoltaic solutions, whose business is focused on solar tracking systems with a strong commitment to innovation. Soltec is positioned as the world's third leading company in the market among solar tracker suppliers, the first worldwide excluding the American market, as well as in Mexico and Argentina and the second position in Brazil and Spain.
With headquarters in Molina de Segura, Murcia, Spain, Soltec Power Holdings has been operating since 2004 and has a diversified geographic presence focused on Spain, North America and Latin America. It has presence in 16 countries with more than 1,320 employees.
Since its foundation, Soltec has supplied trackers for projects with a total of approximately 8 GW of installed capacity, of which 42% are in Latin America, 31% in North America (including Mexico), 25% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 2% in Asia-Pacific. The company has been listed on the Spanish Continuous Market since 28 October 2020 under the ticker 'SOL'.
Sergio López holds a degree in Superior Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) and has more than 22 years of experience in engineering. From his previous construction background to the solar energy field, he has worked his way through every engineering department in Soltec, where he started in 2011. Sergio López has an important commitment not only to Soltec and its PV projects, but to the energy transition and renewable energies as an engine to a climatic recovery.
How has COVID-19 changed the way your company does business?
Despite the exceptional scenario we lived during 2020 due to the Covid-19 and the slowdown in the economy resulting from this context, which we still facing in 2021, the sector is proving its strength and demonstrates the positive prospects and opportunities it offers for the coming years.
During the 2020 financial year, the pandemic has caused the delay of some projects and an increase in structural costs in the sector, as a result of the additional resources required to assume the expected growth of the business during the financial year, but there have been no major delays or important project cancellations. We therefore expect the sector to continue to grow in line with the prospects set and we are confident that it will return to full normality during the course of 2021.
Leaving behind a complicated 2020 marked by COVID-19 and with the short and medium term secured thanks to the strengthening of our operational capacity, we are already working on the company’s strategic priority, which is to be a global solar energy supplier. To this end, Soltec will develop projects regarding green hydrogen and storage, the boost of new products and the entering in new markets with supplier equivalence like Mexico, Saudi Arabia and India.
Have your growth and investment plans changed in the wake of COVID-19?
Like all companies, we have seen a direct impact on the business. The unprecedented situation has been a challenge that has impacted some of the company's main magnitudes in a cyclical manner, such as the delay of some projects or the increase in structural costs. Despite this, we have an outstanding solidity in our business operating indicators (backlog and pipeline), which provide us with a good visibility of the business for the coming quarters. Regarding Soltec Industrial, it should be noted that at the end of 2020 and despite the pandemic, this part of the business achieved a backlog increase of 190 million euros (1,891MW), 48% more than in 2019, and 2,665 million euros of pipeline (24,340MW), 152% more than in the previous period, figures that continued to improve in the first months of 2021. And for Powertis, thanks to the good performance of its business, last year it managed to rotate (fully or partially) more than 1.2 GW and reach a pipeline of 5 GW under development.
During this pandemic share with us some of the new products and services your company has introduced and how you were able to continue to innovate under the circumstances.
Soltec Power Holdings is continuously studying and investing in innovation to offer the best products to the market. In 2020 we introduced our new SF8 tracker, under the slogan "designed for greatness", because with this new product Soltec aims to transform the photovoltaic solar tracking market with a minimum configuration of 2×60 and between 4 and 6 strings. The new SF8 has an innovative full-wireless system that allows the connection of the entire plant and all the trackers to each other. The Open Thread system, developed by Google, makes possible to intensify the protection of the plant and to anticipate any weather phenomena in order to avoid damage.
What are the biggest challenges facing the solar industry today?
Undoubtedly 2020 has left many challenges on the table for the solar energy sector. As the report Post-COVID19 outlook for the renewables sector published by PWC points out, among other things, the shutdown of production during the first quarter of 2020 has led to delays in the supply of photovoltaic solar panels, as well as an increase in prices. This is an issue that continues and is likely to be reflected in 2021, as the restrictions imposed evolve.
Furthermore, as UNEF (Spanish Photovoltaic Union) points out, the main challenge for photovoltaic plants in the coming years will be to consolidate a positive social perception, especially in rural areas. Another major factor will be the evolution of regulations and the creation of laws that will allow adequate Access and Connection procedures to eliminate speculation and, on the other hand, an auction system that assigns prices in an adequate and stable manner, which will allow companies in the sector to access the financing that they need so much.
It is worth noting the distribution of the European Recovery Funds. To allow the sector to face this crisis, these funds will have to be distributed appropriately to help companies in the sector to go a step further and invest in innovation and consolidate this sector, which has great potential to boost the recovery of the entire Spanish industrial fabric at a very delicate time.
What has you optimistic about Renewable Energy in 2021 and beyond?
We are positive about 2021, because although we are still facing challenges caused by Covid-19, the reality is that the renewable energy sector is in a very positive moment and will experience tremendous growth. The tracker market also has a very good outlook and we want to continue to grow and absorb this growth through innovation. According to IHS and Wood Mackenzie, the tracker market will grow from 20% of the market today to 45% by 2025. We are the third largest player worldwide and our goal is to continue to maintain this share in the markets where we are present.
It should be noted that we are experiencing a strong movement and synergies in the sector. This is due to the fact that the essential service offered by the energy sector, as well as the momentum we are experiencing in renewables, make this a stable sector whose growth will continue to increase.
The renewable sector has a lot of support, both the Spanish Government and the European Union are promoting sustainable projects and technologies. In fact, we see that the NextGenerationEU Funds are largely focused on projects that promote a more sustainable Europe and help in the fight against climate change. Renewable energies will play a big role here, not only because of the support of the institutions, but also because of the fact that society is increasingly demanding the use of renewable energies. It is a movement that has started and will not stop.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag
Soltec technical reliability comes from our team of amazing people combining seasoned solar tracker experience with young talent and cutting-edge technology to push the boundaries of innovation within standard product cost-effectiveness criteria. Customers choose Soltec for the combined cost-effectiveness of high-yield equipment with high-tolerance installation features, and the proven reliability of Soltec to meet project criteria of schedule, cost and quality.
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