CESCA EXAMPLE OF TRANSITION FROM ACADEMIA TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Mexico 2018 | GREEN ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

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

What motivated you to launch CESCA?

We are a company based on knowledge; our expertise is our knowledge. CESCA is an example of how researchers successfully transition from academia to entrepreneurship. With Mexico's undertaking to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies, which has been one of the strongest commitments at the global scale, 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, must 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 we help our clients meet any legal requirement related to the environment. We help industries decide how to prevent environmental impacts associated to 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 whole operation, in the case of contracts including follow-up studies. 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, in spite of what many people think. 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 definitely 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 Energy Reform has been a boost in the sector. However, it is not enough to identify areas with high potential, where it is feasible to install new projects without increasing impacts on the environment, without damaging wildlife and without 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.

Given that renewable energy is a fairly new economic sector, do companies face any challenges concerning labor provision?

There is a shortage of skilled labor in this field. Foreign companies come with the know-how. These foreign companies need also 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. I agree with this, especially concerning environmental protection, where there is a lack of specialized training. 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.

Is there an ongoing evolution in the mentality of business leaders in Mexico concerning environmental protection?

It is still seen as an obligation they have to meet in order to operate. However, that is already progress, 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. Some years ago, this was not the case. There is culture of compliance with the environmental legislation.

What is your outlook for CESCA over the years to come?

I want CESCA to always be ahead of market needs. For that, we need to continue to produce more knowledge. For instance, we want to follow producing more quantitative data for our clients based on models built in-house. In particular, we want to help companies to increase the knowledge about their processes and the adaption to climate change by producing more accurate forecasts. Scientific data about soil, water or wildlife applying GIS will also be translated into economic and environmental data for our clients. The ultimate goal is the improvement of corporate practices in environmental protection and impact mitigation. The government has a strong commitment to increasing the share of renewable energy in the power matrix. However, the country still has a long way to go to reach that goal, so our market will continue to expand.