SPOTLIGHT: Mexico's renewables sector enters major growth phase

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Work has begun on some projects awarded in Mexico's first two electric power auctions held in March and September of last year – and with a third auction slated for April 28, the country's renewable capacity is set to increase significantly.

The first two auctions secured US$6.6bn in investment for electricity generation, and will result in the construction of 52 power stations by 34 companies or consortiums. The country expects to add 5GW of renewable capacity by 2019, with solar and wind generation capacity seen increasing 170% by 2020.

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The year has got off to a strong start for project construction. In March, Acciona started work on the 168MW El Cortijo wind farm in Tamaulipas state. Awarded last year, the plant will be the fifth such facility the company will own and operate in Mexico.

Acciona and state utility CFE signed a collaboration agreement in 2015 to jointly develop wind projects, and the company will also build the 339MW Puerto Libertad solar plant in Sonora state, a project awarded in the September auction to a consortium formed by Acciona and Tuto Energy Group, which was awarded a total 478GWh.

Enel Green Power Mexico (EGPM) will build the 93MW Salitrillos wind farm in Tamaulipas, a state poised to play a major role in the country's renewables push, where local firm Parque Eólico Reynosa will build five wind farms totaling around 260MW in capacity and Tractebel Energía de Altamira will build the 49.5MW Tres Mesas 3 farm.

Earlier this month, Energías de Portugal completed the 200MW Eólica de Coahuila wind farm, Mexico's second-largest wind facility after the 252MW Ventika I and II complex (pictured) in Nuevo León, which opened last September.

Mexico's installed wind capacity is currently around 3.7GW, and is expected to grow to 12.8GW by 2020, according to the country's wind power association Amdee.



In early April, EGPM began work on the US$220mn, 238MW Don José solar park in l Guanajuato state, a project awarded in the second auction, and only weeks after having broken ground on the 754MW Villanueva solar plant in Viesca, in Coahuila, the largest of its kind being developed in the Americas.

The company is also building the 200MW La Amistad PV park, also in Coahuila state.

Solar is leading the charge in Mexico's clean energy push, with capacity expected to increase 20-fold by 2019 to 5.4GW, according to the energy ministry, with the country expecting US$5bn in solar investment to 2020.

And in a move to boost small-scale solar generation, in January the energy ministry trimmed the bureaucracy for interconnection and presented a solar users' manual aimed at increasing distributed generation.

Other solar projects to be developed as a result of the first two auctions are a 41MW facility in Baja California, six solar parks in Sonora totaling 300MW, the 148MW Santa María solar park in Chihuahua, the 82.5MW Andalucía II plant in Coahuila, and the 29.6MW Aguascalientes Sur I plant.