TBY talks to two executives in the renewable energy sector on the wind power capacity of Mexico, the strategic location of the country, and the significance of the regional market.
Why is Mexico a strategic location for your company?
MIGUEL ÁNGEL ALONSO RUBIO In terms of renewable energy, Mexico has huge potential. Concerning wind energy, the country has a 71,000-MW plant factor, and the plants installed in the territory register a performance of 20% above the average, which means that Mexico is one of the most attractive countries in the world to produce electricity through wind energy. In terms of solar energy, the average solar radiation reading stands at 5.5 kW per sqm. With these conditions you can easily produce electricity using photovoltaic panels across almost the entire country. Biomass development is also very attractive as well. In Mexico, many crops are cultivated and that produces a high amount of agricultural residue. Frankly, you can produce electricity from these and create a network of small producers and centrals. Hydro energy is also interesting in Mexico, especially if you combine hydro-energy production technology with photovoltaic and wind technology.
ADRIAN KATZEW CORENSTEIN Vestas has made an extremely significant investment in computational power estimates. We have one of the largest supercomputers in the world dedicated to simulating weather and wind patterns. We’ve recently released this technology, so it’s state of the art. Basically, it collects variables that can be observed, such as topography, temperature, and pressure, and through the use of an algorithm it simulates the wind as a function of those conditions. We have used that technology in Mexico to see where there is strong potential for wind energy, and we have performed our own assessment on the potential of the market. If we can simulate wind potential and know how much it costs to build a project, then we can actually know how much it costs to generate wind power. Our conclusion is that Mexico holds a vast potential for wind power, well beyond what is currently planned. In the medium to short term, Mexico could install 10 GW to 20 GW that would be cost competitive with other forms of generation.
Is Latin America increasing in importance for your companies’ global operations?
MAR The opportunities for the development of renewable energies in Latin America are enormous, and particularly in Mexico as a result of its geographical position, weather conditions, and natural resources. The general business environment also complements its attractive renewable energy potential. The government is also promoting this sector, and the consideration of the importance of renewables is starting to get a huge audience in the country. The aim seems to be to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, and that is equating into superb potential. This company wants to be involved in the development of renewable energies across Latin America.
AKC In 2011, the majority of our new growth came from emerging markets, with Latin America playing a very strong role, as well as Asia and India. The two markets that are strategic for us are Brazil and Mexico. Brazil has issued a large number of tenders to purchase different sources of power generation, such as hydro, gas, and wind. Wind has been the technology that has won the largest share, at roughly several gigawatts of power over the past few years, and we expect that trend to continue in Brazil. Mexico has also been an attractive market owing to the Oaxaca projects, with the open season and the self-producer market. There is a different dynamic in Mexico, which is why we’re collaborating so much in the sector. In Brazil, there is a mechanism that is perceived to be stable, and that allows for the market to continue in that mode. We have been successful so far because we have a large infrastructure project built in Oaxaca that has the potential to interconnect projects, but there will need to be further investments in infrastructure to interconnect additional megawatts and continue our activity.
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