We sat down with Jose Morais, BDM in Iberia and Latin America, to discuss his journey through energy maintenance to renewables, the power of data, and the shifting market structure in Iberia.
Hi Jose, would you be able to tell us about yourself and your career so far?
I started my career in a cycle combine power station back in 1996, working as a maintenance manager. After a couple of years, I became technical and commercial director for a company specialising in industrial maintenance and lubrication services. I gained valuable experience working with high value assets and learned the importance of predictive maintenance, asset reliability and O&M cost reduction as a result. Then in 2008 , I moved into renewables sector working for a company specialising in gearbox main shaft repairs and field services for wind turbines – with the sector beginning to gain momentum, it was an exciting time to become involved. I learnt a lot about the wind energy market there and built a strong network in the industry, especially in Iberia. I then concluded my MBA in 2017 and started working for ONYX InSight in my current role.
How did the move from maintenance in traditional power generation to wind energy come about?
It was a natural transition – I’ve always loved new technology. At a previous company, I was invited to start a business in the renewables sector and didn’t think twice. I completed my vibration analyst certification to better understand the benefits of sensing technology, helping owners and operators detect anomalies well in advance before those progress to critical failures. A deep understanding of the failure mechanisms in play is crucial when looking to predict problems with wind machinery.
What new technologies have the greatest potential to make an impact on profitability in the markets you work in?
Data has the greatest potential to make an impact on profitability. How we analyse assets, how we use the data – it’s all very important. ONYX InSight has the tools and expertise to turn data from wind farms into useful and actionable insights. By combining multiple data streams such as vibration, oil, SCADA, field inspections and others we are able to give a holistic picture of the wind asset’s heath and further improve confidence in failure detection, thus increase efficiency and boost profitability.
What challenges do you think the wind industry in Latin America might face in the next 5 years?
Latin America is a particularly interesting market for us and we are now proud to announce that our services and solutions are available in this region through our partner Filtralub. Brazil and Mexico make up the majority share and, with the right support, they have a lot to offer. Brazil, for example, has a huge capacity factor, but you need to be able to rely on your assets to take advantage of this. Preventing unexpected downtime is therefore particularly crucial in this market.
Owners and operators in large markets such as Brazil and Mexico will see increased profits when they are given the opportunity to take a critical view of the productivity of their assets. That’s where ONYX InSight fits in. We are independent and can give an unbiased view of asset health alongside offering the most effective solutions to solve issues with turbines.
What are the biggest trends you are seeing in the wind markets you work in?
Although offshore projects in Latin America are in their pilot phases and are slow to develop, there is huge potential in the region.
In the more mature markets in Iberia, we are seeing a lot of consolidation with OEMs and IPPs. Over 2 GW of wind assets changed owners in the last 12 months. Companies are buying in to the market, so even though it’s a low-cost market, it’s a good place to be. With the EU’s Green Deal on the horizon, it is crucial that existing momentum in Iberia and Southern Europe is maintained.
Which are the most promising wind markets in Latin America in terms of future potential?
Brazil and Mexico, closely followed by Chile and Argentina are becoming renewable energy powerhouses in Latin America. We are already working with owners and operators in these countries introducing our advanced sensing technology and predictive maintenance solutions. For example, we have recently announced a long-term monitoring deal with Rio Energy, one of the fastest growing energy producer in Brazil, that will enable them to achieve savings of up to 30% on O&M costs. The deal covers predictive maintenance using both ONYX InSight’s ecoCMS technology but also third party hardware. ONYX offers flexible, unbiased and hardware agnostic approach, which helps to deliver increased productivity and profitability. These countries are forecasted to grow significantly in economic terms in the next 5 years, with increasingly lucrative renewable energy auctions.
Where are you seeing the most demand for predictive maintenance in the markets you work in?
Most LatAm wind fleets are newer, with over half of existing capacity installed in the last 7 years or so. We have cost-effective sensing hardware and a flexible monitoring offering, helping to make the investment case after warranty or for life extension of older turbines while driving down costs across newer fleets. Additionally, the high wind speeds in these markets can cause problems for assets. In this case, ONYX InSight can support re-designs of critical components to reduce failure rates.