FROM ACADEMIA TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Mexico 2018 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Marcos G. Monroy Fernández, CEO of CESCA, on reasons for setting up the center, power and mining clients, and the future of renewable energy in Mexico.

 Marcos G. Monroy Fernández
BIOGRAPHY
Marcos G. Monroy Fernández has been CEO of CESCA since 2012. He obtained a PhD in geology and raw minerals from the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Geologie Appliquée de Nancy (France). After his PhD, he joined the University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP) in Mexico as a research professor, where he participated in the creation of the minerals engineering and environmental sciences graduate programs. He has been a member of different commissions for scientific and technological evaluation, as well as technical committees for environmental standards.

What motivated you to launch CESCA?

CESCA is an example of how researchers can successfully transition from academia to entrepreneurship. With Mexico's undertaking to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies, companies producing energy with renewable sources have arrived in the Mexican market. The transition meant the creation of eolic as well as solar parks all across the country. We offer consulting services to these new projects launched by renewable energy companies so that they can meet all environmental regulations

Can you tell us more about your clients?

Our clients are mainly power and mining companies, because their activities have an impact on the landscape. Today, we work with Enel Green Power, Acciona Energia, BMW, Grupo México, and other Mexican developers as well, among others. In the case of Grupo México, most of the environmental licenses for its new mining development program in Cananea, Sonora, were obtained through CESCA's work

What services do you offer?

We conduct environmental impact assessments, land use viability studies, and more generally help our clients meet any legal requirement related to the environment. We help industries decide how to prevent environmental impacts associated with the location of their new operations and developers decide which plot is suitable for construction. We aim to not only obtain the permits and the licenses, but also to reach a sustainable balance throughout the entire operation. More generally, we seek to ensure our standards go beyond what is asked by regulators in order to provide the best possible service

How has the legal framework evolved in recent years?

Environmental regulation is not really new; it dates back to the 1990s for the most part. The difference is that currently companies, consultants, and even regulators have learnt how to apply it. Implementation has improved significantly. We help private companies understand how to abide by these rules. The most recent piece of regulation in this field is the Federal Environmental Responsibility Law, voted in 2013. With this new law, if a company pollutes or impacts, it has to pay. Companies have to internalize the cost of polluting, impacting the environment, or damaging the wildlife

How has the market of renewable energy evolved over the past few years?

As a result of the incentives for the generation and distribution of renewable energy included in the Energy Reform 2013, many projects have been developed to generate energy from solar or wind energy sources. The reform has been a boost for the sector. However, it is not enough to identify areas with high potential, where it is feasible to install new projects without increasing the impact on the environment, without damaging wildlife and affecting the rights of the local population. These are the challenges for the coming years, both for developers and generators, as well as consultants such as CESCA and environmental authorities.

Do companies face any challenges concerning labor provisions?

There is a shortage of skilled labor in this field, especially concerning environmental protection. Foreign companies come with the know-how and need to develop knowledge in Mexico to increase skills and abilities, for example to sign MoUs with local universities in order to facilitate technology transfers and help train a generation of skilled professionals. For example, CESCA employs many young graduates, and we do our best to train them in environmental management, which is new for many of them. Moreover, in any project we include a training component for our client's staff.

How has the mentality of business leaders concerning environmental protection evolved?

It is still seen as an obligation they have to meet in order to operate. However, that is already progressing, because today every single company bears in mind the environmental impact of its activities and the measures it must take in order to mitigate them. Several years ago, this was not the case. There is now a culture of compliance with environmental legislation.