In the Mexican state of Coahuila, a giant #energy corporation from Italy is developing an immense #solar power plant that features no less than 2.3 million solar panels. You read that correctly: 2.3 million units of solar panels! This would put it in the ranks of the largest such solar arrays in the world, along with India and China.
The Chihuahuan Desert is located in #Mexico and doesn’t have much to offer with the exception of cacti and dunes of sand. But as you drive through this desert, suddenly a strange blue field appears over the horizon. At first, you wouldn’t be able to tell what it is. As you get closer, you realize the image is not what you thought – a mirage – but a huge #solar park. In fact, it is the biggest solar array in #Latin America.
Meet Villanueva – A Giant Solar Power Plant
Built by Enel, the energy giant based in Italy, the immense solar power plant called Villanueva has 2.3 million solar units of panels. The panels are spread across an area equivalent to the total size of 2,200 football fields, which is a huge area by any means.
The solar power plant has not yet reached its full capacity. It will do so later this year, when it will output enough electricity to sustain approximately 1.3 million homes. Only China and India have solar projects of this magnitude. Except for these countries, the Mexican project is the biggest in the world. Also, this solar project is part of the plan for Mexico to generate at least 35% of all its electricity from green, clean sources by the year 2024.
Back in 2015, Mexico surprised the world and environmentalists when it announced its plan to halve carbon monoxide emissions by 2050. It was the first emerging country that had the courage to announce such an ambitious emission reduction target as part of the climate accord of the United Nations. And the first actions were already being taken as part of the 2013 Mexican solar energy reforms.
Positive Changes in Mexico
Even though the political environment in Mexico was not very friendly towards these policies, it looks like things have stabilized and the reforms are here to stay. An often overlooked part of the reforms was the fact that the government started to allow foreign companies to produce and sell energy in Mexico. This is why the solar industry has been picking up the pace ever since, and it is probably why a solar power plant of this magnitude has been built in Mexico.
The reforms allowed officials in Mexico to hold auctions for clean energy projects. Private companies are free to make their bids to produce energy from only clean sources such as solar and wind. Geothermal projects are also welcome. Furthermore, the energy generated from clean sources can be sold on the free market in Mexico, so solar companies investing in these projects are able to make a substantial profit – if they manage their projects correctly.
A Solar Energy Boom in Mexico
The director for renewable energy at Enel has stated the company is very pleased with the market conditions in Mexico and he sees a great deal of potential for companies looking to invest into this type of energy. It looks like solar energy is experiencing a boom in Mexico.
More good news is that companies have been able to take advantage of a significant drop in solar technology prices, a trend which has been going on for several years. Solar energy is one of the fastest growing energies around the globe and, as such, technology is advancing rapidly. This means there are now better technologies that are cheaper.
As long as solar sources are becoming cheaper and solar technology is more readily available, companies are going to invest in this sector. Solar energy projects have the potential to bring in a lot of profit for solar companies with the capital to invest in huge solar projects like the one Enel invested in, in Mexico. According to various executives, the solar potential of Mexico is immense. In other words, there is a lot of space left for other companies to build solar arrays. And the prospect of a significant return on investment is driving more and more investors to the country – while also fueling their appetites.
Ever since Mexico began to hold auctions for clean energy, roughly $8.6 billion has been invested. According to Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, Energy Minister of Mexico, the funds will be used to construct approximately 40 solar parks and 25 wind projects. These green energy projects will help Mexico attain its goal of producing more than 35% of its electricity from clean sources by 2024.
Back in 2015, Mexico had only nine solar parks across the country. Now, its goal is to have closer to 70 by the year 2021, which is just three years away at the time of writing. This is truly an ambitious goal, and Mexico has already demonstrated that the country is able to keep its commitments to decreasing its carbon footprint.
To this point in time, only three auctions have been held. The price per megawatt-hour has been dropped by electricity producers from $50 to just $20. This is a huge drop in prices per MWH. And according to the government, the recent projects place Mexico on the list of the top 10 countries that are investing most heavily in clean, renewable energies like solar and wind. The next auction is set to take place in November, 2018. Stay on top of solar news to see what happens at the next auction!