Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This tourist loved Zihua so much, he stayed and built a company here

In 2017, when Cubans Rodelaine Martínez Torres and his wife Virginia Campos discovered Zihuatanejo, they liked it so much that they decided to stay.

With a background in engineering and solar experience at a thermal electric plant at Pinar del Rio in Cuba, Martinez quickly saw the potential to start his own solar panel company in the resort area, where according to Google, the sun shines on average 340 days a year.

Today EDISSustentable, which sells panels, generators and hybrid systems, has more than 100 customers, including the International Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo airport, their largest project to date.

Martínez and Campos also give back to the community. It brings programs to schools to educate kids about renewable energy, and it also has a paid internship program that hires students from the nearby Technological University of Costa Grande in Petatlán, a win-win situation for both sides: students get long-term hands-on training, and the company benefits from training students who become a skilled local labor pool it can hire from. 

Rodelaine Martínez Torres, owner of EDISSustentable solar panel company in Zihuatanejo, is originally from Cuba and fell in love with the resort city so much, he changed from a tourist to a resident.

César Eduardo Martínez Najera, a graduate of the program, who worked 190 hours as an intern at the company and eventually became an employee, had nothing but good things to say about his experience.

“This aspect had me very excited, as at the university, the theory was 30% and 70% was in practice.” 

When solar power got going in Mexico around 2015, according to Martínez, Mexico’s federal government first began supporting the industry’s development with simplified permitting procedures for 500-kilowatt- to 2-megawatt projects. There are also several subsidies available for those who buy solar systems, including a 100% tax incentive. 

However, the current Mexican government is not as open to renewable energy as it used to be, Jeremy Martin of the Institute of the Americas, a think-tank based at the University of California San Diego, recently told the financial magazine Forbes

Installers install panels at Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Airport, EDISSustentable’s largest client to date. Some of the company’s workers are graduates from a paid solar industry internship program the company runs.

“Overall, [President] López Obrador is prioritizing fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy and has disparaged wind turbines for polluting the visual landscape in rural areas,” he said. “Globally, the energy trend lines are clear. Net-zero and climate actions are the imperatives driving the world’s policy choices and regulations.”

But for many potential solar customers, the bottom line isn’t how much federal support there is but how much savings they can get on their electric bill. And what can stop people from progressing from consideration to execution is not knowing how such systems work, how to judge a solar panel system’s usefulness or how to evaluate the company promising to install it. 

Martínez explains that a consultant should visit your home or property to ascertain the roof’s slope, the house’s size, electrical units and appliances. Then, they check your electric bills to see your current consumption to determine how substantial your savings would be. Next, a converter is attached to a charge center system on a separate meter, which measures what your panels produce and consume.

A phone application can track all this for you. 

project to install solar array on Mexico City's Central de Abastos
Solar energy is becoming more accepted in Mexico’s daily life, as this huge solar array in progress on Mexico City’s municipal public market, the Central de Abastos, shows.

The sun’s light and the amount of sunshine make the panels more effective; an average of 28 degrees Celsius temperature is ideal. Once the light hits, it passes through a microinverter connecting four panels simultaneously. If something interferes with one of the panels functioning — such as dirt dropped from a passing bird — the other panels continue to workGetting the panel to work again is simply a matter of hosing off the boards with water, something homeowners typically need to do once a month.

The normal life expectancy of panels is 25 years.

And how long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves? EDISSustentable’s customer service representative Marianna Best says that you can normally expect a return on investment within three to four years. “As soon as the panels are installed and the meter is changed, customers can expect a 98% decrease in current electrical bills.” 

But, she cautions, “It is important to ensure you are dealing with a reputable company. Things to watch for are whether the engineers are qualified and certified. In addition, you need to check that the panels, the microinverters, and the materials are of the quality that the company says they are. Consumer reports and reviews help.” 

  • To learn more about EDISSustentable, you can contact them through their website.

The writer divides her time between Canada and Zihuatanejo.

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