Juan Mayoral, armed with a Master in Telecommunications Engineering, ventured into the solar industry in 2004 in Spain as a Cofounder of Sofos Energy, a solar construction company in his hometown Lleida, in Catalonia. During that time, solar was a little-known industry in Spain and he became one of the pioneers in designing and introducing the solar products and related services to the region. Understanding that it was a new field of business, Juan created complete turn-key services for Sofos’ clients: design, permitting, engineering, construction, commissioning, and maintenance. Regulation in Spain changed over the years and under Juan’s management, Sofos adapt edits company services to the market needs: feed-in-tariff, roof top, ground mounted, double-axis tracker, behind the meter, off-grid, among others.
During all these years, Juan has demonstrated great values on leadership across the company, by acquiring experience not only vertically but horizontally in several disciplines such as business administration, human resources, marketing, sales, and product development. In 2015 Juan received the award of Best Leader of the Year, by a local business academy, which used leadership metrics defined by the Harvard University.
The Honest Approach
Sofos’s understanding and commitment to high quality and honest service allows them to get involved in any phase of a solar energy PV project seamlessly. According to Juan, “honesty is the key to set real expectations for our clients. By understanding the products and services in every aspect it gives us the opportunity to become the most real and competitive offer on the market.” He continues, “Being honest with our customers usually ends up with them being honest with us, which is the best way to understand the real needs of every customer. Once we know their actual needs, we customize our products and services for them.”
The company’s flexibility and capacities make them an excellent EPC option for utility scale projects of 5MW up to any size, and from 1MW in C&I PV plants. With over 16 years of experience in the industry, more than 300 turn-key developed and constructed projects in varied countries and different solar environments, they have the adaptability to build any kind of solar project. “Sofos Harbert is a reduced overhead company, small enough to make quick decisions and adapt to real customer needs,” adds Juan. “The Harbert piece provides to the company local reputation, as well as a solid financial and large construction background that ensures the satisfaction of any client.”
Sharing one of their success stories, Juan says, “there is a 2.4 MW solar roof top installation for the hotel resort Grand Palladium in Jamaica. The project phase 1 was built between 2013 and 2014, it was 1.4 MW formed by more than 50 villas and 2 main lobbies. During 2019 and 2020 the project has been expanded by utilizing roofs from additional buildings, such as maintenance or residents’ homes.” The client was faced with numerous challenges, including integrating the different subprojects into a micro-grid involving the incumbent fuel electric generators, and preventing the solar system
from back feeding the surplus solar energy to the utility grid. But, with Sofos’ solution today the resort has been able to reduce its electricity bill by 20%, and hedge against the unpredictability of electricity prices due to fuel cost fluctuations. The resort is able to comply with their corporate renewable policies, by reducing the resort’s carbon footprint and also stabilizing the energy supply, and by cutting their demand in solar peak hours.
Towards the Future – Sofos Harbert
Sofos Harbert has developed solar to serve the communities where the solar energy was unknown or difficult to do. And, Juan has always been an active stakeholder in the markets he or his companies have been developing. Between 2010 and 2012, Juan was vice-president of one of the biggest nationwide solar Spanish associations, and through it, Juan actively participated in negotiations with the Spanish government regarding solar regulation. Later, he was one of the eight cofounders of UNEF, currently the most influential solar association in Spain and Europe. Once Sofos Harbert was created, Juan joined the board of directors of the Alabama Solar Industry Association (ALASIA) helping them to get the solar energy opportunity to every part of the state. Juan has been a speaker in different solar conferences, including the Caribbean Renewable Energy Facility held in Miami.
For the days to come, Juan with Sofos Harbert, is focused on developing utility scale solar projects in the Southeast US with a goal of 1GWs within the next 3 years. Long term energy producers (IPPs) are Sofos Harbert’s final clients for such a product. Sofos Harbert is also focused on designing, engineering, and constructing commercial, industrial and Utility Scale solar projects between 1MW and 20MW in the Southeast, especially in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. These projects may include storage support or microgrid integration. Commercial and industrial consumers are the main potential customers, as well as utility companies. “In terms of services, it is in our short to mid-term strategy to offer operation & maintenance and asset management services to the projects we construct or develop,” says Juan. “Our vision for the near future is to expand our services to other US regions, North America and eventually the African continent.”