This is a two-part episode with my good friend, Karin Berardo, split between Episode 10 and 11.

Part 1:

This episode of SunCast features Karin Berardo of M+W Group.  Karin has been a pioneer in a number of ways in the solar industry, being involved in what was one of the first companies in the US to finance large-scale solar using a Power Purchase Agreement.  She's now heading up international expansion for M+W and we cover her broad-ranging experience from Brazil to Mexico as well as what it takes to finance a solar project today.

Exciting stuff since last show: Mexico tender, Argentina tender, new legislation in Brazil and Colombia, presidential elections across the region, on and on.

Impossible to catch up on it all, but I think I’ll do another episode soon with a market analyst to bring everyone up to speed.  
That said, Mike Munsell of GTM just published another teaser to their PV Playbook that gives interesting detail to how the region continues to evolve.  According to the report, the region is on pace to install 2.2 gigawatts of PV in 2016, up 55 percent over last year’s 1.4 gigawatts.  Further, GTM Research anticipates Latin America will install 7.7 gigawatts of PV annually by 2020!

Many of you, I’m certain, are already familiar with Karin Berardo or M&W.

Karin's extensive background in renewables, finance, and emerging markets is among the most impressive I've ever encountered. She's been active in Mexico for 3 yrs with Gehrlicher/M+W and believes the C&I space in Mexico is the more interesting market and one we should be looking out for.

I love her honesty in admitting that her resume has been an adventure, not particularly guided by foresight but successful nonetheless.  

You’ll hear as she explains how she discovered a need to, as she calls it, "learn the language of finance"

We cover What working at Muni Mae taught her about finance and how MMA Renewable Ventures began

Karin discusses what she's looking for as an investor, longterm, and the nature of PPA products as investment vehicles, and where the main funds come from that are flowing into these types of projects.

Part 2:

This episode of SunCast continues our discussion with Karin Berardo of M+W Group. Karin has been a pioneer in solar through her involvement with MuniMae’s MMA Renewables, Cleanpath, and now M+W Group’s global expansion.  In this Episode, we dive into the dynamics of working for a 100 yr old company in a low-margin game, keeping your mind fresh and informed, and how to prioritize and do the right things as a company and individual for maximum impact.  We chat about EPC differentiation, organizing your thoughts, managing a company of 7000 individuals, and which markets she thinks are Hot or Not.  This is a fun conversation, and Karin dispels loads of wisdom.  

Right in the beginning, we jump into the story of M&W >100 yrs, diversified company growing from a small ventilation and air quality company in Germany to the global behemoth it is today.
M+W is now the global leader in solar cell and module production plants (actually building them) around the world!  Counting the SunPower plant in Mexicali, First Solar in Malaysia, and many other supply chain companies in their track record.

When asked how does M&W stand apart from crowd when it's got tons of overhead and EPC is such a tight margin game, Karin discusses the value of their global network and history, and points to acquisition of Gehrlicher Solar as a defining moment for the solar EPC piece of their business.

2 main advantages they bring:

  • excellent problem solvers able to break complexity into manageable components
  • existing C&I customers, really understanding how PV can augment the broader problem solving around building efficiency and customized specialized engineering

She highlights they're also able to work with enormous projects requiring balance sheet and bankability, and bring best-of-breed product in the field.

On more personal notes, Karen talks about what a developer should be paying attention to when entering into a new market.  And she gives her view on keeping balanced, her reading habits, and the nature of working with a global team, as well as what she refers to as her "personal clipping service" - how she keeps up with the headlines.  Karin also opens up about task management, prioritization, and doing the Right things to progress as a company and an individual.

"...the greatest training in my life as a professional was having children... you learn to deal with irrational people, adapt and think fast on your feet."

The one thing she consistently does that yields the greatest impact:  make time for mindfulness

Hot or Not
Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Panama, Honduras, Caribbean, Mexico

Karin's crystal ball prediction is an endorsement of the basics and fundamentals of behind the meter C&I solar expansion in Latam.

Resources:

Mike Munsell's GTM Research article I mentioned (re: Latam Playbook)

About the Author:
Nico Johnson is the creator and host of SunCast, a regular discussion with Solar Industry professionals who are focused on the Latin America solar market.  The content of the show is geared towards listeners looking for in-depth conversation on the trends in the market, how to position companies to win in Latin America, and what today's market leaders do to stay ahead of the pack.
Nico is a 10-year veteran of the solar industry, having led development in the US and Latin America for global companies like Trina Solar and Conergy.  His connection to the Latam market extends back to when he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, and he is considered one of the market's leading experts on solar pv expansion in region.

Nico can be reached at nico@mysuncast.com