RAÚL MORALES

Spain 2021 | GREEN ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Raúl Morales, CEO of Soltec Trackers, on going public, the pay-as-bid model, and expanding into Latin America.

You recently became the first company to float on the Spanish stock exchange in the last two years. This is a great achievement for both the sector and the economy. What does this great milestone mean for Soltec?

Yes, it has been a great success for the company, and we are very happy to have reached this milestone. We made this decision because we needed financing to be able to continue growing and to carry out our business plan. We believed that an IPO was the best way to achieve this and we worked hard for it. The pandemic delayed our initial plans but even so, our business model has convinced our investors and we were able to achieve this milestone at a time as difficult as the present. Our business model has convinced our investors and we have been able to achieve this milestone at such a difficult time. The global consensus on the relevance of this sector for the development and growth of economies has also provided a boost to the achievement of this transaction. From now on, we will continue to work with all our efforts to continue positioning ourselves as one of the leading companies in the field of PV solar energy and as a relevant player in the energy transition.

Soltec recently launched the SF8 Tracker. An improved version from the previous SF7 in terms of geometry, increased tracker resistance to adverse weather conditions and produces up to 8.6% more power generation than other trackers. What are the key characteristics of the SF8 tracker?

Our new product, the SF8 recently launched it is an updated version of SF7, and it is more resistant to difficult weather conditions. The SF8 is the new generation of single-axis trackers, elegantly engineered for robustness and specially designed for larger modules. Its unique 4 to 6 strings 2×60 configuration with multidrive transmission system within the tracker structure and supersized torque-tube with improved geometry, offers the highest resilience to wind while keeping its elegant design, reducing the number of parts and easing the tracker installation. The revolutionary technology of the SF8 tracker allows up to 8.6% more power generation when bifacial modules are installed. With the TeamTrack system, Soltec can produce a 6% more energy. The improved and adapted algorithm to bifacial modules, achieves an extra yield of up to 0.5%. This extra bifacial gain of SF8 trackers adds to the 2.1% of Bifacial Gain yielded by Soltec's bifacial trackers in comparison to 1P configuration trackers of competitors.

Thanks to several initiatives, Soltec has managed to reduce emissions by 39.31% in 2017-2019 compared to the previous three-year period. This has granted Soltec the “sello Reduzco” from the Ministry of Ecological Transition. What initiatives did you take into action?

It is an honor to receive the REDUZCO seal, a recognition of Soltec's commitment in the fight against climate change that inspires us to continue working day by day to raise the company's quality standards and to reach the goal of zero carbon emissions through the use of renewable energies. We have reduced by 39.31% the average emission intensity of the activities carried out at our facilities in Molina de Segura (Murcia, Spain) in the three-year period 2017-2019 with respect to the three-year period 2016-2018.

During one of your recent speeches, you suggested there should be two tenders per year, and that the tenders should take into account the carbon footprint. What is your view on this?

Yes, recently the Spanish Government approved the renewable energy auctions, a milestone that the whole sector was waiting for and which will be very positive both for our industry and for the society in general. I believe that it is important that renewable energy auctions are technologically neutral and that they have a pay-as-bid design, in which a price is assigned for the energy generated. This is a very powerful tool to give visibility to our sector, and even more at a time like the present, when we need a sustainable way of dealing with the economic crisis more than ever. In the specific case of Soltec, renewable energy auctions help us to have a regular flow of projects, thus creating a more efficient industry in terms of competitiveness. With regard to the carbon footprint, I have always argued that in Spain we have extensive experience in the renewable energy sector and a great deal of local talent, and this is also reflected in all the technologies and materials we use. What I want to say is that we must promote local products, something that would undoubtedly generate further employment. It does not make sense that all the materials were supplied by other countries. To achieve this, it would be important to introduce the carbon footprint requirement. This means that, for example, when I have materials produced in Murcia and installed in Alicante, their carbon footprint would be smaller than if they were brought from China. This would also generate local jobs and increase our competitiveness in the sector. To achieve this, we are part of the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF), and we are working with them to inform the authorities and the Ministry of Energy about these needs.

Soltec is the leader in the Latin American market. In addition, it has supplied projects of more than 4GW on the continent. What are your plans in terms of expansion in Latam?

Latin America is extremely important for us. We started in Chile outside of the feeding tariff, and in 2020 we returned to Chile. Brazil is an important market for us, and where we have a very important market share and leadership. The current situation in Mexico has been a little more complex since the decisions taken by its president, López Obrador, regarding renewable energy projects in this region. In any case, our presence in Mexico is also very significant for us and we believe that it is a great country with a lot of potential to develop new projects and great benefits for the renewable energy industry. Indeed, we have presence and offices in practically the whole Latin American territory. It has been an extremely important region for our development in the past and continues to be one of the main focuses of photovoltaic solar energy. In this regard, we will continue to look for opportunities in these countries and will always be willing to study all opportunities available to us in this area which may be positive for the sector, the company and bring added value to our shareholders.

What are your priorities for the year ahead and for 2021?

Soltec's priority at this time, after the IPO, is to carry out our strategic plan and continue to grow and expand which implies being capable of capturing the growth and demands of today's market. We are living a great moment at a global level for renewable energies and I am convinced that we will be fully able to make the best of it. We are an innovative company in constant evolution, so we will also continue to promote new products and improvements in our services that will help our customers to be more efficient, which will undoubtedly have a clear result for society in general: more and better clean energy.