24 MARZO 2020
Antonio Sánchez, director of the EPC department: “Every person, idea, and opinion is important and is a strength to our company”
Specializing in the renewable energy sector since 2007, Antonio Sánchez, director of Univergy Solar’s EPC department, has proven to be one of the best examples of the type of excellence so characteristic of Univergy Solar.
Antonio Sánchez Canora, director of EPC at Univergy Solar, who has over 12 years experience in the renewable energy sector, is an Agricultural Engineer, having graduated from the University of Castilla-La Mancha.
Born and raised in Albacete, Antonio started his professional career in 2007 amidst an increased interest in solar power plants. He started specializing in this sector, both in the area of engineering as well as on the environmental side of things, but his career developed as he played integral roles in large photovoltaic power station projects in countries such as Uruguay, Chile, and Japan. He has worked on these projects from our home offices to Univergy Solar’s various international offices up until project completion.
As director of EPC at Univergy Solar, Antonio manages more than 10 construction projects in multiple countries, so traveling is a part of his day-to-day life. Additionally, he directly coordinates the efforts of more than 40 employees.
Today we’re featuring an interview with him on our blog:
Q: Why is the EPC department’s importance at Univergy Solar?
A: The EPC department has been increasing in value at the company, since we decided to invest in the project execution chain, whether that’s greenfield projects or operations and maintenance.
At Univergy Solar we have two main sources of new projects, on the one hand, thanks to our colleagues in the Development department, we have a higher number of projects to work on, and on the other hand, clients who have already placed their trust in Univergy Solar and come to us when they need to create large solar farms.
Q: What type of clients are requesting installations from EPC?
A: Normally our clients tend to be large investment funds that we already have development agreements with and for whom we, as we were mentioning before, provide the entire value chain of services.
We also do projects for small investment groups who are now starting to value this product as an investment in the future.
On the flip side of the coin, right now in Spain we are also seeing tremendous growth in the construction of home and business solar, where we are increasingly seeing smart energy management micro-grids.
Q: Could you tell us what your daily work entails?
A: Of course! My workday usually begins fairly early since I try to coordinate my day with our team in Japan, who I am constantly communicating with. I usually have two or three calls with them trying to resolve issues that come up and provide solid service for all of the quotes and projects that they are generating. Then I get to the office where, together with my department colleagues and everyone who works in the Technical Office, we work to manage our international projects.
The technical and corporate headquarters are located in Albacete and Madrid, respectively, and we try to support the 23 international offices Univergy Solar has throughout different time zones.
Normally I spend the last hours of the afternoon communicating with our team in Colombia to make sure they have what they need. Most of my workday consists of managing the different teams we have. I tend to be the type of person who likes to be there when decisions are made and at the same time involve my team in the decision-making process. It’s really important that each member of the team contributes their expertise and opinion to our projects; I definitely trust my team when it comes to this.
Q: What is the return on investment for this sector?
A: This is a question that we can look at from different angles. It generally depends on the operation’s equity, meaning that it will depend on how much money the client contributes, since for example, if a client has 100% of the operation financed and doesn’t contribute any capital, they will start enjoying an economic return from day one. For the most common situations, however, a balance of 20-80 or 30-70, the return periods are around 7–9 years. You have to remember that this will all depend on a number of factors, such as the plant’s production hours, the mounting system used, and the investment made going in.
Q: What type of power farms are requested more often, wind or solar?
A: In our case, solar farms are in higher demand, which is due to many factors. For example, the price of construction is much lower than the typical prices for wind farms, so our prototypical client is more interested in solar energy.
Q: What are the best countries for these kinds of projects?
A: All of these investments can be carried out much more easily if the country you’re operating in is economically and politically stable, but that’s not always something you can count on.
There are many countries where this is the case, and it makes everything so much more simple. A great example of this is Germany, where, despite having much less solar radiation than Spain, they have installed a lot more GWs. On the other hand, we have Argentina, where seeing a project through is much more difficult because it’s hard to find banks or investment funds that will finance them.
Q: In which countries have you encountered the most problems?
A: That’s a difficult question since, in all of the countries where we operate, I have really great memories of the fantastic work that our local and international field workers have done, but we do need to recognize that we are under more and more pressure to perform our installations faster due to the fixed costs that these incur. This makes it so there tends to be a lot of stress when it comes to completion and delivery deadlines.
We have examples in countries such as Indonesia, where religion is very important, and where we have to stop during the workday so that workers can observe their religion, or countries like Japan, where workers exercise for a half hour before starting work, so the workday starts later than in other countries that don’t have this custom.
That’s why we can’t treat all of countries the same way, and even though the processes may be the same, we always try to do our best to adapt to the various markets we operate in.
Q: In your opinion, is the world prepared for the drastic change of going from conventional energy to solar energy?
A: Whether they’re prepared or not, there’s no other option. Everyday we watch as the global temperature continues to rise, and we witness weather patterns that used to not be so uncommon becoming ever more commonplace. This is the reason why the only option is to change our energy paradigm.
Eduardo Galeano once said, and Albacete’s own Dr. Cepillo used this in one of his speeches as well, “A lot of small people, in tiny places, doing little things, can change the world.”
This in turn is part of our company philosophy, every person, idea, and opinion is important and is a strength to our company.
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