Meco Runs on Solar Energy
THE FUTURE IS GREEN
Last September, the 528 solar panels, recently installed at Meco’s aggregates plant in Santa Ana Costa Rica, produced solar energy that will be injected into the public electricity system managed by the National Power and Light Company (CNFL). This set of panels – and its 330 watts of unit capacity – , will produce about 245,000 kilowatts per hour, throughout the year. For Meco
, this operation generates savings of about 15% of its annual electricity bill; at the same time, it will lead the company to the forefront of clean energy in Costa Rica.
The distributed generation solar project for self-consumption in Santa Ana was born less than a year ago and it meant an investment of about $US 150,000. Manrique Alfaro, Deputy Manager of Corporate Machinery at Meco, explains the process: “This project started in mid-2019. The idea was to provide solar energy to the 4,700-square-meter building area where the workshops and heavy machinery offices are located. Towards the end of that year, there was a formal proposal and in February 2020 we closed the contract to start the installation ”, he said.
A Model to Follow
In addition to the special structure that supports the panels on the roof of the plant, the process required the installation of two inverters, a transformer and two meters (to know how much goes in and how much is injected), Moreover, a rearrangement of the wiring and the electric protections was made.
By the time the distributed generation system for self-consumption begins to work, “not only will we have a consumption drop, but also the National Power and Light Company (CNFL) – the public service provider – , will recognize the surpluses that we injected into the network. As we are injecting excess energy into the network, the panels will be producing”, explains Alfaro.
At first, the project is a kind of pilot plan, Manrique explains. “The intention is to analyze how we are doing with this and see if the Guápiles aggregates plant can also be a part of it; and consequently, analyze the impact and viability in other countries of the region where we operate”.
“I am a true believer in a principle called the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). This means that in the end, not everything is about economic gain. Instead, it has to do a lot with the three ‘Ps’: People, Planet
, Profits. This must be part of the core of the business, not just a good deed. I really think that within the core of the business, we must follow the three ‘Ps’ principle because they are a fundamental part of the culture”, Alfaro concluded.