When did Fronius touch ground in Latin America and what has been the company's competitive strategy for the region? How has it worked out so far?
Fronius has been in Latin America for decades, beginning with the supply of welding machines to the automotive sector. In Solar the year 2010 saw us starting operations in Mexico. Having already had the welding business established in the country was a big support for the integration of the new business unit. It made this step kind of natural. In 2013 we implemented the Solar Business Unit also at Fronius Brazil. In both countries our customers value Fronius as a reliable partner that provides European engineering, national technical support and local availability of stock.
For future years to come Fronius Solar Energy is striving to establish ties with local partners and qualifying them so that they obtain a deep understanding of our products and services and can help their customers in finding tailor-made solutions to satisfy their energy needs.
How do you evaluate the potential of the Central American region? Which countries seem particularly attractive? And how does the region compare to markets like Mexico and Chile?
Central America is an interesting region for the implementation of renewable energies as a whole and solar in particular. One thing that many countries of the region have in common is a growing consumption of electricity, leading to increased pressure on the authority to provide this energy. From this point it is only natural that renewable energies are included in the energy matrix of countries like El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica or Panamá. A healthy blend of hydroelectric, wind and solar power plants at todays´ price levels can make a considerable contribution to safeguarding energy supply.
Putting markets in Central America in context to Mexico and Chile makes us distinguish between markets dominated in numbers by smaller scale installations (Mexico) or utility sized plants (Chile). In our understanding representatives for group one would be countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala, while El Salvador, Honduras are more similar to Chile.
What is needed to really get the market ignited? Are pieces of the puzzle still missing or is everything ready for take-off?
Financing is always an issue, especially at the residential, small and medium commercial market segments. At Fronius we think that it is just a matter of time for financial institutions to elaborate a bundle of financing options. In parallel national authorities can provide fiscal benefits in form of tax-deductions or accelerated depreciation for companies that contribute to the integration of renewables in the countries´ energy mix.
How soon will we see Fronius participating in projects in the region? Are there already things in the pipeline?
Having produced and sold its first solar components over 20 years ago, Fronius is positioned as the reliable long-term partner for distributors and installers in the region. With our newly introduced product series Agilo TL Fronius has become increasingly attractive as solution provider for energy conversion in large scale PV projects. We are in talks with project developers in the region.
What will be the biggest (regional) challenges that Fronius will face in the Central America region in the coming years?
At Fronius we have three common principles for each market we address: First: Perfect understanding of boundary conditions. Second: knowledge of reality and drivers of our sales and service partners, and third: provision of the right solution to satisfy the energy need of the end customer. Working from within the region will give us an unbiased view of the markets.