Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Mexico City’s new solar power plant is ‘largest of its kind in the world’

An installation of solar panels said to be the largest of its kind in the world was put into operation Tuesday on the rooftops of Mexico City’s massive public wholesale market, the Central de Abasto (CEDA).

The 32,000 solar panels installed over 21 hectares (52 acres) above the capital’s Central de Abasto (CEDA) have 18 megawatts of capacity, and will generate up to 25 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable electricity per year, according to data from Mexico City officials.

The panels are installed on the roof of Mexico City’s giant Central de Abasto market. (Gobierno de CDMX/Cuartoscuro)

That’s enough energy to power 10,000 homes for a year, officials added.

They also said that the electricity generated will reduce carbon dioxide emissions annually by 11,400 tonnes and result in annual savings of 3.5 million pesos (US $205,300) in the payment of CEDA’s electrical bills.

The reduction of the carbon footprint is equivalent to the reforestation and care of nearly 29,000 pine trees for 50 years, said Mexico City Mayor Martí Batres Guadarrama.

The plant, which cost 600 million pesos (US $35.2 million) to build, was promoted by Morena presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum during her 4½-year term as Mexico City mayor.

Sheinbaum has a master’s degree and Ph.D. in energy engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and from 1991 to 1994, she completed work for her doctoral thesis on the use of energy in Mexico at the world-renowned Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

The plant is being run by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

Thirteen months ago, Sheinbaum declared that the project, in the capital’s eastern Iztapalapa borough, would be finished by the middle of 2023.

The plant was inaugurated this week by Energy Minister Miguel Ángel Maciel Torres and CFE head Manuel Bartlett Díaz, among others.

Mexico City Mayor Martí Batres was present at the inauguration of the new plant. (Graciela López/Cuartoscuro)

Bartlett Díaz highlighted the plant as a work of economic development and social responsibility that will provide clean and cheap energy to the largest such market in Latin America.

“It is an important symbol — not just another electricity project,” Bartlett Díaz said. “It is really a sign that the [Mexico City] government has seen social and technological development as its main concern … [It’s] an example for the entire city.”

Maciel Torres said the next step is to generate storage batteries so that the electricity generated is not only used during the day, but also at night.

Like others, he also stressed the “important social component” of the project. “Not only are we thinking about the business, about recovering the investment, but we are thinking about supporting the population, the tenants, the people, the neighboring buildings,” he said.

The solar installation has been described as the largest urban solar park in the world; close competitors are the Radha Soami project in Amritsar, India and the rooftop solar park at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California.

A ranking of the world’s 15 biggest solar power plants by capacity also includes Mexico: the Villanueva Solar Park in Viesca, Coahuila, about 40 miles outside of Torreón, with 2.3 million solar panels and 754 megawatt capacity, making it the biggest solar plant in the Americas.

With reports from La Jornada

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