150 MW solar plant announced for Mexico's Baja California


Energy Partners Latin America (EPLA) has announced it is to construct a 150 MW solar PV plant at a cost of $279 million in the Baja California region of Mexico.

EPLA, an affiliate of Idaho-based Intermountain Energy Partners, was set up last year to develop solar and water management projects in Mexico and throughout Latin America, and will oversee the entire EPC of the 150 MW solar project.

Local businesses have already been offered the chance to become off-takers in the clean energy the Baja California plant will produce via long-term PPAs, offering a cleaner alternative and lower electricity tariffs than what is currently available via state utility CFE.

According to Rene Romandia Tamayo, president of Mexico’s manufacturing chamber, EPLA’s solar plant will deliver 17% discounts on current electricity rates for medium- and large-tension grid users, and is projected to shave some $47 million off local companies’ bills during its 25-year lifetime.

EPLA is guaranteeing the electricity for that period, and has revealed that construction of the plant will create 1,025 jobs, of which 24 will remain permanent in the management and operation of the plant.

Mexico has begun to embrace the opportunities of solar power in recent years, now boasting more than 600 solar power companies operating within the company – a figure that stood at just 46 in 2010, according to data published by the national solar energy association (ANES).

Last August, Mexico introduced a series of energy reforms intended to benefit renewable energy sources such as solar PV and wind, including a requirement for grid operator CENACE to procure more renewable energy, and offering private companies the opportunity to sign electricity contracts directly with renewable energy generators – as will be the case with EPLA’s solar plant.

GTM Research data suggests that Mexico, while slow off the solar mark, is set to become the strongest PV market in Latin America before 2020, with analyst Adam James remarking: "Mexico tops our list pretty conclusively as the best place in Latin America to do business as a solar developer."