Top Costa-Rican Supermarket Chain Auto Mercado Builds its First Clean Energy Microgrid with Heila Technologies
The microgrid will reduce CO2 emissions and electricity consumption at Auto Mercado’s Auto Deli production plant
Boston, MA – October 19, 2021 – Heila Technologies, an energy technology leader responsible for controlling, aggregating and optimizing distributed energy resources (DERs), announced today that starting in November, Auto Mercado’s Auto Deli production plant in Heredia, Costa Rica will use solar energy to prepare their products. The site’s new microgrid will be comprised of more than 490 solar panels, an energy storage system and the Heila Edge® control and optimization platform. The investment is part of six total projects that Auto Mercado has made in solar photovoltaic energy.
Greenenergy®, a local B Corporation project developer, will install a new 237kW solar system and 240kWh LFP battery to an existing generator using an innovative, distributed approach to microgrid controls. By leveraging the Heila Edge® platform for the microgrid’s controls, Auto Mercado will be able to reap the benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, along with advanced forecasting capabilities. The platform will optimize the dispatch of the solar and battery assets on the microgrid for both utility bill savings and carbon offsets.
The microgrid installation began in August 2021 and will finish at the end of November of this year. In total, the plant will eliminate 20 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year while increasing the resiliency of the site during outages. The solar array will produce 27% of the electricity consumed and contribute to the company’s corporate social responsibility goals.
“This is the second microgrid project that we have implemented together with greenenergy® in Costa Rica, a country with many opportunities to deploy cutting-edge technologies so that businesses and industries are increasingly competitive and sustainable. Technologies like these also allow companies to protect themselves from avoidable losses as a result of power failures. We are extremely proud to be working with such a wonderful developer and partner in greenenergy®,” said Francisco Morocz, CEO of Heila Technologies.
For more than 60 years, Auto Mercado has worked hard to become one of the most forward-thinking and respected companies in Costa Rica. The company currently operates 42 stores, employs more than 3,200 people and produces, markets, distributes and imports food and beverages from all over the world into Costa Rica.
According to the MERCO 2021 study — a research report overviewing the companies in Costa Rica with the best corporate reputations — Auto Mercado is recognized as holding the #1 position within the supermarket segment in corporate reputation and the #2 position in corporate social responsibility and governance. Auto Mercado is also the 2021 recipient of the Best E-Commerce Award.
“This investment is part of our sustainability program, which aims to bring products that are fresh and with an increasingly small environmental footprint to our customers. We are excited about the potential of this microgrid, and look forward to not only powering our operations with clean energy during on-grid and off-grid operations but also saving money on our utility bills,” commented Silvia Pérez-Baires, Coordinator of Social Responsibility and Sustainability at Auto Mercado.
The Auto Mercado group has five other clean energy investments around the country, including three Vindi large convenience stores, the main distribution center in Heredia and the Auto Mercado in Lindora. In total, the Auto Mercado group will install more than 1.1MW of solar power, equivalent to more than 3,000 solar panels or enough energy to offset more than 5,480 homes in Costa Rica per year*. Overall, Auto Mercado’s investment in clean energy will offset 43.47 tons of CO2 annually.
“We have worked hand-in-hand with Auto Mercado to help them reach their sustainability goals, and this microgrid is the cherry on top of their investments because it will not only pay back the business (with utility bill savings), but also benefit the environment, the community and of course, their final consumers,” commented Fernando Ortuño, General Director of greenenergy® Costa Rica.
What is a microgrid?
A microgrid is a low or medium-voltage generation- and distribution-level energy system, in this case, composed of solar panels, batteries, a generator and a control hardware and software platform that monitors the generation, storage and distribution of the energy produced. Microgrids can be controlled as individual entities, operated in aggregate in a portfolio of other microgrids, and operated in parallel to the public grid without causing disturbances. They can disconnect and run independently of the power grid to protect themselves during voltage fluctuations or any other anomalies, providing an additional layer of reliability to customer operations and the public utility.
About Heila Technologies
Heila Technologies is an MIT-born company dedicated to simplifying the integration and operation of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). Combining decades of deep theoretical knowledge and practical industry experience, Heila’s mission is to transform the energy industry from the ground up using DERs as the pillars of a new sustainable, reliable, and equitable grid. Its decentralized optimization system provides unparalleled automation and modularity, dramatically reducing system complexity and cost. The company was founded in 2015 and is based in Greentown Labs in Somerville, Massachusetts. To learn more, visit www.heilatech.com.
*According to the “Estudio para la caracterización del consumo energético en el sector residencial” (Study of the characterization of energy consumption in the residential sector) from February 2019, prepared for Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment and Energy.