Solar power in Mexico

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Solar power in Mexico has the potential to produce vast amounts of energy. 70% of the country has an insolation of greater than 4.5 kWh/m²/day. Using 15% efficient photovoltaics, a square 25 km (16 mi) on each side in the state of Chihuahua or the Sonoran Desert (0.01% of Mexico) could supply all of Mexico's electricity.[1]


Concentrated solar power prospects for southwest United States and northern Mexico

Mexico already leads Latin America in solar energy production. Historically, the main applications of solar energy technologies in Mexico have been for non-electric active solar system applications for space heating, water heating and drying crops. As in most countries, wind power development preceded solar power initially, due to the lower installation cost.[2] Since solar power is not available during the night, and because wind power tends to be complementary to solar, a mix of both can be expected. Both require substantial storage to compensate for days with no wind and no sun. Batteries provide short term storage,[3] and pumped hydroelectricity provides longer term storage.[4]


A 46.8 MW photovoltaic project is under construction in Puerto Libertad, Sonora.[5] Originally planned to be 39 MW, the size was increased to allow generation of 106,728,000 kWh/year.[6]

A solar trough based 14 MW plant will use a combined cycle gas turbine of 478 MW[7] to provide electricity to the city of Agua Prieta, Sonora. The World Bank has financed this project with US$50 million.[8] A 450 MW concentrated photovoltaics plant is planned for Baja California.[9]

A 2012 law requires 35% of electricity from renewable resources by 2024 and carbon emission reductions of 50% below 2000 levels by 2050.[10][11][12] Combined with declining solar installation costs, it's estimated that the 2012 climate law will lead to 6 GW of solar capacity in Mexico by 2020.[13]

At the Solar Power Mexico conference, it was said that PV electricity and solar thermal will comprise up to 5% of Mexico's energy by 2030 and up to 10% by 2050.[14]

There is considerable academic and commercial interest in a new form of concentrated solar power (CSP), called STEM, for off-grid applications to produce 24 hour industrial scale power for remote communities and mining sites. STEM uses fluidized silica sand as a thermal storage and heat transfer medium for CSP systems. It has been developed by Italy's Magaldi Industries. The first commercial application of STEM will take place in Sicily in late 2015.[15]


Source: – Solar Energy Potential (PDF)[16]
Installed PV capacity (in MW)
2001 15.0 1.1
2002 16.2 1.2
2003 17.1 0.9
2004 18.2 1.1
2005 18.7 0.5
2006 19.7 1.0
2007 20.7 1.0
2008 21.7 1.0
2009 25.0 3.3
2010 30.6 5.6
2011 40.1 9.5
2012 52.4 12
2013 112 60
2014 176 64
Source: from the IEA-PVPS. Figures from 2001–2013,[17] and for 2014[18]
Total Capacity – Cumulative installed PV capacity in MW since 2001

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sunny Mexico: An Energy Opportunity
  2. ^ Is Solar Power Cheaper Than Wind?
  3. ^ Smarter Energy Storage For Solar And Wind Power
  4. ^ Chu calls for hydro storage to conserve clean energy
  5. ^ Mexico photovoltaic project to sell electricity to CFE
  6. ^ Sonora Energy to Build 39 MW Solar Project in Mexico
  7. ^ Agua Prieta II
  8. ^ "Cumulative and Newly-Installed Solar Photovoltaics Capacity in Ten Leading Countries and the World, 2009". Earth Policy Institute. 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  9. ^ First 50 Megawatts of Large Solar Power Plant in Baja California
  10. ^ Mexico Emulates Neighbor California With 35% Clean Climate Law
  11. ^ Mexican Renewable Energy Market Set to Soar in 2013
  12. ^ Christina McCain (2012-07-16). "Mexico's historic climate law: an analysis". Environmental Defense Fund. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  13. ^ Lucy Woods (2013-12-19). "Mexico to quadruple solar growth in 2014: GTM". Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  14. ^ "Solar Power Mexico 2012: The Only Event Uniting the Rapidly Expanding Mexican Solar Industry". Solar Power Mexico. 
  15. ^ "Italian project shows strong potential for sand based CSP". CSP Today. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "Solar Energy Potential in Mexico's Northern Border States" (PDF). Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Snapshot of Global PV 1992-2014" (PDF). International Energy Agency — Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme. 30 March 2015. p. 15. Archived from the original on 30 March 2015. 

External links[edit]