Solar power in New Mexico

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Solar power in New Mexico has the potential for supplying more than all of the electricity used in the state.[1] A Renewable Portfolio Standard requires 20% renewable energy by 2020, and 4% from solar power from investor owned utilities, and 10% renewable from rural electric cooperatives.

Parabolic trough[edit]

Parabolic trough solar systems have been determined to be the most cost effective large systems, and in July 2008 New Mexico's utilities combined to release an RFP for a parabolic trough solar system to generate from 211,000 and 375,000 megawatt-hours (MW·h) per year by 2012.[2][3] New Mexico generated 514 MW·h from solar power in 2006, and 1,760 in 2007.[4]

Sandia National Laboratories[edit]

Sandia National Laboratories has been testing solar thermal devices at Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF). On January 31, 2008, a Sterling solar ice-cream dish system set a solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record of 31.25 percent net efficiency. The previous record was 29.4 percent, set in 1984.[5]

Net metering[edit]

As of July 29, 2008, New Mexico has one of the most generous metering laws in the country, and covers all systems up to 80 MW. Excess generation of less than $50 is rolled over to the next month; over that is paid to the consumer.[6]

Renewable Portfolio Standard[edit]

The New Mexico Renewable Portfolio Standard calls for 20% renewable energy by 2020, and 4% from solar power from investor owned utilities, and 10% renewable from rural electric cooperatives. Renewable Energy Certificates, (RECs), may be sold through the Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System (WREGIS).[7]

Installed capacity[edit]

As of January 2012, no concentrated solar power (CSP) plants are currently planned for New Mexico, although the state has the capacity to install 4,860,000 MW of CSP covering 47% of the area of the state, sufficient to generate 16,812,349 million kWh/year,[8] four times what is used by the entire country. Thermal storage allows 99% efficient 24 hour dispatching of electricity from CSP.[9]

New Mexico Solar Capacity (MWp)[10][11][12]
Year Photovoltaics CSP
Capacity Installed % Change Capacity Installed % Change
2007 0.5 0.2 67%
2008 1.0 0.6 100%
2009 2.4 1.4 140%
2010 43.3 40.9 1704%
2011 165.5 122.1 282%
2012 203.4 37.9 23%


  1. ^ Plugging in Renewable Energy pg. 11 (581%)
  2. ^ Four utilities partner on major solar project
  3. ^ State's four major utilities partner on solar project
  4. ^ New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and Renewable Energy in New Mexico
  5. ^ Solar Power: New World Record For Solar-to-grid Conversion Efficiency Set
  6. ^ Net Metering
  7. ^ Renewables Portfolio Standard
  8. ^ Renewable Energy Technical Potential
  9. ^ State Electricity Profiles
  10. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 17. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  11. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 23. Retrieved 2012-07-12. 
  12. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010". Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 20. Retrieved 2011-06-29.