North America Integration: Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself
My great-grandfather experienced life on both sides of the Rio Grande, with family land spanning Texas and Coahuila. When the Mexican Revolution unfolded, they sought refuge in San Antonio, Texas, where he eventually settled down. Though he returned to Mexico later and started a family, my roots tie me closely to both nations.
I was born in Monterrey, a city renowned for its industrial prowess and manufacturing might. Monterrey houses the wealthiest city in Latin America, along hard working people. Growing up, I shuttled between Texas and Monterrey, nurturing family ties and cherishing summers by Lake Conroe. UT Austin became my Alma Mater.
Trade with the US has greatly benefitted my city, with car manufacturing plants and supply chains flourishing (and exciting new investments from Tesla and Amazon.) I hold deep love for my homeland and neighbors, and I yearn to contribute towards preserving North America's status as the world's most powerful region.
Embracing the Solar Opportunity
Solar energy, despite its widespread popularity, accounts for less than 4% of homes' energy supply. Interestingly, solar became the dominant new installed electric generation capacity last year, emphasizing its immense potential.
However, the solar industry faces two major challenges: a talent crisis and a broken supply chain heavily reliant on China and Southeast Asian countries.
To achieve sustainable growth, the industry must expand its workforce from 250,000 to 1.5 million in the next decade. Yet, an aging workforce contributes to a talent shortage, resulting in what I term "Solar Inflation," where high labor costs drive up solar prices for customers.
Moreover, our supply chain is fractured. The industry experienced a never-before-seen three quarters of solar price increases due to equipment embargoes at US customs. Additionally, solar components produced using forced labor in Southeast Asian countries have become prevalent accounting for 70% of US solar imports, and China has prohibited the sale of solar manufacturing technology to the US.
We must ensure that this new form of Cold War does not impede the progress of the solar industry. Instead, let us turn to our neighbors and support one another.
Talent is Distributed, but Opportunities Are Not
I have witnessed this firsthand while leading Mexico's largest solar financing platform, working with over 1,300 solar installation companies across 30 cities. The engineers showcased impeccable designs and installations, but their pricing was very low, with residential projects charging $1.00 per watt. But solar engineers were happy and making money! Can you believe it?
In Mexico, we have numerous engineers eager to enter the solar industry, while in the US, there is a strong demand from customers looking to adopt solar energy.
As a region, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve energy and supply independence. By building a robust talent pool and a reliable component supply chain, we can power the new zero carbon economy and strengthen the North American region.
Let us join forces and fortify North America together.
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