New wind farms expected to start operations in 2018 will increase electricity generation capacity enough to make this year the industry’s most productive on record, according to estimates by the Mexican Wind Energy Association (AMDEE).
Together the projects will have the capacity to generate more than 1,100 megawatts of electricity, the organization said.
Mexico ended last year with a nationwide wind power capacity of 4,005 megawatts, meaning that total capacity is slated to increase by more than 25% this year.
AMDEE president Leopoldo Rodríguez told the newspaper El Financiero that private investment projects had added 480 megawatts to the sector in 2017, 20 megawatts more than what was added in 2016, but 2018 is shaping up to be much better.
“. . . We are looking forward to several projects this year that are already in advanced stages,” Rodríguez said, adding that the new projects were the result of the first round of tendering held after Mexico’s energy reform.
According to El Financiero, the production of wind power in Mexico was initially motivated by environmental concerns but that has now largely been superseded by commercial interests.
Increased capacity and reliability has convinced more large companies to turn to renewable energies such as wind for their significant electricity needs.
One example is Mexican multinational beverage and retail company Femsa. It announced that it will get 45% of its power from wind this year and that figure will grow to “around 80% in 2019.”
Beyond 2018, there are also signs that the industry will continue to grow.
Italian multinational Enel Green Power announced yesterday it had started construction of a 93-megawatt wind farm in the municipality of Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
The company said that it was investing approximately US $120 million in the project, which is expected to enter into service by 2019.
“The start of construction of Saltrillos wind farm broadens our leadership within the Mexican market as it allows us to enter into a new, strategic, wind resource-rich state,” said Antonio Cammisecra, the company’s global renewable energies division head.
A company statement said the new project would be supported by a contract providing for the sale of electricity it generates to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) for a period of 15 years.
The company was also awarded contracts for an additional four wind farms in Mexico’s third public tendering process since energy reform was passed.
Enel will build another three facilities in Coahuila and one in Nuevo Léon although it didn’t specify the planned commencement or conclusion dates. Together they will add a further capacity of 593 megawatts.
However, despite strong growth, the wind power industry isn’t completely without challenges.
Rodríguez said that one of the biggest risks to meeting the sector’s goals was a lack of transmission infrastructure from wind farms to high population centers where electricity demand is highest, citing the route between Oaxaca and the center of the country as a prime example.
He also said that conflict resulting from opposition to new wind-power projects also represented a risk to the sector.
Just last week, the Supreme Court ruled that a wind farm project in Oaxaca must be halted because the process that approved it violated the rights of the local indigenous community.
Nevertheless, Rodríguez remains confident that the industry’s long-term prospects are good.
“. . fortunately, it’s a sector . . . that is well viewed by everyone and one that has proven to be competitive,” he said.