Huge CPV Solar Power Project to Bring Low-Cost Electricity, Green Jobs & Growth to Baja Mexico

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Photo credit: SolFocus
San Jose concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology and systems developer SolFocus yesterday announced that it’s joining with Mexico property developer Grupo Musa and Georgia’s Synergy Technologies LLC to bring Mexico’s landmark solar power plant in Baja California online.

The planned 450-MW solar power plant, Mexico’s first large-scale solar PV project and the largest by far in the country to date, is to be constructed near Tecate, Mexico in 50-MW stages. The first stage is to start late this year and start producing clean, renewable solar power before year-end 2013, according to a SolFocus press release.

The Baja solar power plant will employ SolFocus’s Concentrator Photovoltaic equipment and will be owned and operated by SolMex Energy SA de CV, a new joint venture company formed by Grupo Musa and Synergy.

Baja: A Tremendous Solar Power Resource, Now a Test Ground for Solar CPV

Northern Mexico has the third-greatest solar resource in the world, according to the developers. The energy conversion efficiency of SolFocus’s CPV solar cells approach 40%, as compared to less than 20% for the highest efficiency crystalline silicon (c-SI) solar PV out on the market today. Durable and able to perform at high efficiency in high-temperature environments, they’re also well suited to site conditions in Baja, according to the company.

Some 3,850 SolFocus SF-1136SX CPV systems will be installed on the 122 hectare (~300 acre) Baja CPV solar power project site. Though Grupo Musa expects to use most of the initial 50-MW of renewable energy produced by the Baja CPV solar power plant to power its own facilities, the project will deliver low-cost, renewable energy reliably over the long term across the region. That will foster and facilitate economic activity in an environmentally and socially responsible way, including through the creation of green jobs, SolFocus CEO Mark Crowley pointed out.

“Building on the track record of SolFocus projects in the southwest U.S. and Mexico, this project in Mexico will turn dormant land into jobs and low-cost, reliable electricity. In the first year of operation we should deliver at least 120,000 megawatt hours of electricity to Baja California.”

The 450-MW Baja solar power project is also notable in that it offers additional evidence of private sector follow-through on the Mexican government’s efforts to chart and navigate a transition away from an energy policy centered on oil and gas to cleaner, renewable energy resources.

Follow-Through on Mexico’s Clean Energy–Climate Change–Sustainable Development Plans

“The project is in direct alignment with the Mexico and U.S. bilateral clean energy agenda. The countries share a common goal of achieving strong economic growth and energy security while addressing climate change and increasing the reliability of energy infrastructure,” said Lic. David Muñoz, director general of the Baja California State Commission of Energy.

“Mexico has been successful with wind energy, and now this large solar project will support our energy infrastructure and economic development efforts in the very near future. This project adds to Governor Osuna Millan’s vision of a sustainable Baja California.”

Developing Pacific Mexico’s wind energy resources have thus far been the focus of renewable energy project announcements. Marena Renovables earlier this month placed an order for 396-MW worth of Vestas wind turbines, which are to be installed on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca. The largest wind farm in Latin America announced to date, Marena Renovables is a multinational consortium comprised of Dutch pension fund service provider PGGM, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp., and Macquarie Bank’s Mexican infrastructure fund.

Developing wind and solar power generation dovetails nicely with Mexico’s climate change action plans. Also earlier this month, Mexico’s Senate began working on a unified national climate change bill, one that would consolidate and better organize climate change action plans that have already been passed in the Federal District of Mexico City, Tabasco and Veracruz.

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