Cross-border solar plant launched

Mexico’s ventures into renewable energy are starting to branch into solar power. And like a just-approved collaboration with an American utility, cross-border collaboration

SolFocus, Inc. joined with Mexican land and real estate developer Grupo Musa and U.S.-based energy developer Synergy Technologies, LLC to launch a solar power plant in Baja California near Tecate, Mexico. The project is planned for 450 MW in total capacity, but will be built in 50 MW tranches.

Construction starts later this year, with operations are expected to commence in late 2013. The power plant, which will use SolFocus Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) equipment, will be owned and operated by SolMex Energy S.A. de C.V., the new company formed by Grupo Musa and Synergy Technologies for the production of clean solar energy in Mexico.   Grupo Musa will be consuming most of the output of the initial 50 MW installation to meet energy demands at its various facilities.

“The project is in direct alignment with the Mexico and U.S. bilateral clean energy agenda. The countries share a common goal of achieving strong economic growth and energy security while addressing climate change and increasing the reliability of energy infrastructure,” said David Muñoz, Director General of the Baja California State Commission of Energy said in a statement. “Mexico has been successful with wind energy, and now this large solar project will support our energy infrastructure and economic development efforts in the very near future. This project adds to Governor Osuna Millan’s vision of a sustainable Baja California.”

The power plant is being built on land owned by Grupo Musa near Tecate. Northern Mexico has the third greatest solar resource in the world, making it an ideal location for this project. Extreme temperatures make the region a challenging environment for traditional solar equipment.

“We decided to use the advanced, high-efficiency CPV equipment from SolFocus in order to reduce the amount of equipment required, have systems which operate at top performance even in these hot temperatures, and improve the overall financial economics of the project,” said Synergy Technologies CEO Matt Piell. The first year of operation should deliver at least 120,000 MWh of electricity to Baja California. The power plant will incorporate 3,850 SolFocus SF-1136SX systems on the 122 hectare (~300 acre) site.