This was a bit of a shocker to me. We all know that Google, IKEA, Walmart, Walgreens, Apple, GM, and several other major corporations have been investing heavily in solar power (presumably, to help combat climate change and to because it makes good financial sense), but this is the first I’ve heard about Ford investing in such solar power plants. Also, it’s interesting to hear that the plant is in Mexico.
Mexico has tremendous (insanely good) solar energy resources, but it hasn’t been a leader in the solar power space to date. However, it is starting to get its ducks in order — last year it passed a 35% Clean Climate law, its clean energy investments surged in 2012, and just this week we announced that the largest solar PV power plant in Latin America is now under construction in Mexico.
Getting back to Ford, I should note that it has been building up a bit of a solar presence. While I think this is its first investment in a solar power project for its own electricity needs, it has been pushing and stimulating residential solar through partnerships with KB Home and SunPower.
With all that background in place to catch everyone up to speed, let’s get to the latest announcement. Ford has signed an agreement to consume 15% of the electricity produced by Sonora80M Group’s 20 MW solar park (which is anticipated to get up to 80 MW eventually, after all four phases are complete).
Once completed, or even once phase two is completed, this solar power plant will pass up the one we wrote about the other day to become the largest solar PV power plant in Mexico. And, actually, it was announced first — back in August 2012. Regarding the lengthier process, Pablo Mayo Sanz, partner-director of Sonora80M, told PV-Tech: “The delay is due to all the legal requirements needed to complete the project. This project sells energy to seven municipalities in Sonora (as well as Ford Motor Company), and this kind of public-private structure is quite complex, and requires political approval before starting.”
The second phase of the solar project, which Sonora80M is in the process of negotiating, is to be 20–30 MW in size, but the company is not yet making any statements about phases three and four.
The solar power plant, if you’re familiar with Mexico or just curious, will be built in Hermosillo, in Mexico’s northern state of Sonora. The project is supposed to come online in 2014.
In a Sonora80M press statement translated from Spanish, the company writes: “The first phase of 20 MW, will feature solar trackers to optimize production by approximately 30%, taking advantage of the great solar potential available to Mexico. When this first phase becomes operational throughout 2014, will stop being issued about 500,000 tons of CO 2 into the atmosphere.”
Also translated from Spanish: “One of the main concerns in the business is to safeguard the environment,” said Jose Islas, Director of Manufacturing, Ford of Mexico. “That’s why, in addition to producing hybrid and electric vehicles in our Hermosillo plant, from the first quarter of 2014, we will be using solar energy for our operations. Through the use of this energy source, we seek to reduce our carbon footprint and lower the cost associated with the use of electrical input, resulting in higher levels of productivity and competitiveness for the company.”
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