Solar Energy in Mexico
Mexico is in the midst of major changes in its energy policies in order to move towards the use of clean energy sources that will lead to a healthier planet for future generations.
According to Secretariat of Energy, renewable energy generation will increase to 22 gigawatts (GW) by 2025. For this to occur it is necessary to improve transmission, distribution and measurement systems.
Increasing the production of energy and reducing carbon emissions without implementing cleaner sources poses a challenge. To achieve this Mexico is holding its first auction in the energy industry, which will establish the demand in the sector. Renewable energy plants may also sell twenty-year clean energy certificates. Similarly, the reform envisages that from 2018 large consumers of electricity will purchase these certificates to meet the obligation of obtaining 5% of their energy from sustainable sources. The government is searching for ways to transform the country’s energy mix by 2024, in order to generate 35% from clean sources.
Currently, solar energy and wind power are competing with fossil fuels. The first represents a mature industry, able to compete and achieve that sustainability, while increasing the supply of electricity from non-fossil sources.
The cost of electricity based on photovoltaic plants is competitive in relation to existing tariffs. This is something to be emphasized, because in Mexico there is a perception that solar energy is not competitive. For the short and medium terms, SunPower is developing a portfolio of hundreds of megawatts (MW), and we expect to start construction soon. For the long term, the potential of implementing more solar energy is feasible and attractive thanks to the recent reforms, which, incidentally, are well under way with satisfactory results, which should be recognized as a triumph of the government.
In addition to being sustainable, solar energy is the only source of energy generation that can be located practically wherever it is needed. This is due to two reasons: the good solar radiation that we enjoy in practically the entire country, and the fact that solar energy can be adapted to a great deal of requirements and conditions.
Another advantage that this energy provides is price stability. The fuel—the sun—is free, so that long-term contracts eliminate the risk of volatility, unpredictability and increased fuel costs.
The SunPower Mexicali Plant: A New Path Towards Sustainability
In 2011 SunPower established its first photovoltaic panel manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Baja California. With around 20% of its workforce in that border city, SunPower has one of the largest manufacturing facilities of photovoltaic panels in Mexico, and expects to double its production capacity by one GW per year. In 2013 it opened offices in Mexico City to develop a portfolio of several hundred MW.
Recently, the company announced that National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Sustainability granted the Mexicali plant a Landfill Free certification, due to the fact that 99% of the waste generated by operations in these facilities does not end up in landfills. The company also received the Cradle-to-Cradle Certified™ Silver award for its SunPower™® E-Series and X-Series panels, manufactured in this plant. This certification is based on the quality standards that evaluate product design, manufacturing and corporate citizenship. SunPower is the first and only solar panel manufacturer to receive this recognition.
Experience and Innovative Technology
From 2013, after opening our new offices in the capital, we are focused on the development of solar photovoltaic projects across the country, as well as the commercialization of energy. Hence, SunPower México is in a position to offer sustainable solutions to all of its customers. In 2011, Total SA—the fourth largest private oil company in the world1—acquired 60% of SunPower’s stock. This alliance has been of great importance for developing a single, efficient and durable technology that contributes to generating additional energy.
With over thirty years of experience, SunPower not only produces the most efficient panels in the market2. It also offers complete solar energy solutions for residential customers and commercial installations all over the world. One of these solutions is PV Salvador, in Chile’s Atacama desert. This 70 MW commercial solar energy plant is one of the largest in the world and—according to estimates by Total SA—will produce approximately 200 GW of solar energy per hour every year, enough to supply 70,000 households in that country.