Solar power in Mexico

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Solar potential of Mexico

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
Installed Capacity of total distributed clean energy in Mexico. The blue line represents current growth in capacity and the green line are projections made by Mexico's Special Program for Energy Transition. Source: SENER, First Analysis on Clean Distributed Energy and Energy Efficiency in Mexico, 2017 (p. 7)
Historic progress of installed PV solar capacity and generation in Mexico. Source: SENER. “Renewable Energy Prospective [Mexico]”. 2016 (p. 57)
Future growth for current and added solar PV installed capacity and generation from 2016 to 2030. Source: SENER. “Renewable Energy Prospective [Mexico]”. 2016 (p. 61)

A law requiring 35% of electricity from renewable resources by 2024 and carbon emission reductions of 50% below 2000 levels by 2050 was introduced in 2012.[2][3][4] Combined with declining solar installation costs, it was estimated that the 2012 climate law would lead to 6 GW of solar capacity in Mexico by 2020.[5] At the Solar Power Mexico conference, it was said that PV electricity and solar thermal would comprise up to 5% of Mexico's energy by 2030 and up to 10% by 2050.[6] The first long term energy auction was held in 2015 with a second one in 2016. Solar PV was successful in both, securing 1,691 MW of the 2,085 MW auctioned in the first and 1573 MW of 3473 MW in the second auction.[7]

In 2013, 22% of the installed electricity generation capacity in Mexico was from renewable sources. The majority, 18.1% coming from hydroelectricity, 2.5% from wind power and 0.1% from solar PV.[8] In December 2013, the Mexican government passed a Constitutional Reform that effectively opened the energy sector to private investment, both for electricity generation and petroleum exploration and extraction.[9] The Reform's goal was to modernize the sector by optimizing the use of national resources and incentivizing renewable energy through clean energy certificates.[10] The Reform liberalized the electricity sector and brought forth a wholesale electricity market. Long and medium term auctions are the main mechanisms used to incentivize capacity and energy growth. Clean energy certificates are created by the participation of renewables and are meant to support energy generated from low carbon emitting sources. A long term energy action secures a 15-year contract for energy and capacity supplied whereas medium term generates a 3-year contract.[11]

Mexico was the second largest solar generator in Latin America in 2016, with 180 MW installed capacity and more than 500 MW under construction.[12] At a clean source auction that year, solar won 1,860 MW at an average price of $50.7 per MWh (ranging between $35 and $67). The production was expected to be 4 TWh per year. Other sources such as gas, hydro and geothermal received no awards, and wind power won a smaller share than solar.[13]

As of 2017, thanks to the Long-Term Energy Auctions, solar PV energy is expected to increase to 6% in 2018 and 13% for 2019.[14]


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.[7] 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,[15] and pumped hydroelectricity provides longer-term storage.[16]


The Villanueva Solar plant is the largest in Mexico with 310 MW installed by mid-2018. When completed, it will be the largest in the Americas at 828 MW.[17]

Another large installation, Don José Solar Farm was completed in May 2018 Initially at 238 MW, a 22 MW expansion project was immediately announced.[18][19]

A 405 MWp (megawatt-peak) photovoltaic project in Puerto Libertad, Sonora was completed in December, 2018.[20] Originally planned to be 39 MW, the size was increased to allow generation of approximately 963 GWh (gigawatt-hours) of electricity per year.[21]

A solar trough based 14 MW plant will use a combined cycle gas turbine of 478 MW[22] to provide electricity to the city of Agua Prieta, Sonora. The World Bank has financed this project with US$50 million.[23] A 450 MW concentrated photovoltaics plant is planned for Baja California.[24]

Distributed Generation[edit]

Currently, 98% of all distributed generation can be attributed to solar PV panels installed on rooftops or small businesses. This installed capacity has greatly increased from 3 kW in 2007 to 247.6 MW by the end of 2016. According to the Mexican Ministry of Energy (SENER) if this trend continues till 2018 the total installed capacity will surpass 527 MW, this is the goal set by the Mexico's Special Program for Energy Transition or PETE (Programa Especial de la Transición Energética)[25]

Distributed energy in Mexico is classified as any system with a capacity below 500 kW.[26] The National Association of Solar Energy (ANES from the Spanish acronym) reported approximately 21,600 interconnection permits for distributed solar in 2015. In March, 2017 the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) approved regulation that allows net metering for distributed energy generation.[27]

Solar potential[edit]

Source: – Solar Energy Potential (PDF)[28]

Installed capacity[edit]

PV capacity in Mexico by year (MW)[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36]
Year Total capacity Installed capacity
2000 13.9
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
2007 20.7 1
2008 21.7 1
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
2015 282 106
2016 320 38
2017 539 219
2018 3,017 2,478
2019 4,426 1,409
2020 (forecast)* 5,926 1,500

(*) This forecast does not account for economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sunny Mexico: An Energy Opportunity
  2. ^ Mexico Emulates Neighbor California With 35% Clean Climate Law
  3. ^ Mexican Renewable Energy Market Set to Soar in 2013
  4. ^ Christina McCain (2012-07-16). "Mexico's historic climate law: an analysis". Environmental Defense Fund. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  5. ^ Lucy Woods (2013-12-19). "Mexico to quadruple solar growth in 2014: GTM". Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  6. ^ "Solar Power Mexico 2012: The Only Event Uniting the Rapidly Expanding Mexican Solar Industry". Solar Power Mexico.
  7. ^ a b Is Solar Power Cheaper Than Wind?
  8. ^ "REmap 2030 A Renewable Energy Roadmap" (PDF). SENER and IRENA. May 2015.
  9. ^ Vietor, Richard H.K. (January 23, 2017). "Mexico's Energy Reform" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Reforma Energetica ¿Qué es?". Mover Mexico.
  11. ^ "Mexico capacity and power auctions supported by clean energy certificates". International Energy Agency.
  12. ^ Mike, Munsell (June 14, 2016). "3 Fast Facts About Latin America's Solar Market".
  13. ^ Mohit Anand (5 April 2016). "Solar Stuns in Mexico's First Clean Energy Auction: 1,860MW Won at $50.7 per MWh". Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Energía solar fotovoltaica". Forbes Mexico. August 16, 2017.
  15. ^ Smarter Energy Storage For Solar And Wind Power
  16. ^ Chu calls for hydro storage to conserve clean energy
  17. ^ "Enel Green Power Mexico shows off work at Villanueva solar power plant". 2018-03-06. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  18. ^ Enel switches on 238 MW solar park in Mexico, pv-magazine, Jorge Zarco, May 28, 2018
  19. ^ Enel to expand its Mexican mega-projects by 96 MW, pv-magazine, Pilar Sánchez Molina, May 11, 2018
  20. ^ "ACCIONA completes the assembly of a 405 MWp photovoltaic plant in Mexico, installing over one million panels in two months". Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  21. ^ Sonora Energy to Build 39 MW Solar Project in Mexico Archived 2012-01-22 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Agua Prieta II
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ First 50 Megawatts of Large Solar Power Plant in Baja California Archived 2012-08-23 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Secretaria de Energia (SENER) (2017). "Primer Analisis sobre los beneficios de la generacion limpia distribuida y la eficiencia energetica en Mexico" (PDF).
  26. ^ Lopez, Alejo. "Generacion Solar Distribuida" (PDF).
  27. ^ "México impulsa la generación distribuida solar con nuevas normas". PV Magazine. December 15, 2016.
  28. ^ "Solar Energy Potential in Mexico's Northern Border States" (PDF). Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  29. ^ "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.
  30. ^ "Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Markets 2015".
  32. ^ Snapshot of Global Photovoltaic Markets, International Energy Agency, 2017
  33. ^ Imprint; us, About; Conditions, Terms and; Policy, Privacy and Cookies. "Mexico's Solar PV Capacity Exceeds 4 GW | TaiyangNews". Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  34. ^ Mexico Solar Photovolatic (PV) Market
  35. ^ No es viable regresar a la Reforma Energética: ASOLMEX

External links[edit]