Hive Energy opens office to harness the power of the sun in Mexico’s emerging solar power market

Mexico

Today Hive Energy has announced the opening of its newest offices in Mexico City. The UK owned and operated company plans to identify opportunities for solar PV development in Mexico and the wider Central America region as part of its ongoing international expansion.

Bernardo Fernandez, a graduate of the Spanish business school Instituto de Empresa’s Executive MBA program has been appointed director of business development and project management in the region. Bringing to the role extensive experience from across the renewable, utility and engineering sector gained working on projects spanning Europe and Central America, his remit is to identify and develop PV projects in the region both through private Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and future public auctions focusing on utility scale PV plants and commercial rooftop installations.

The move into Mexico’s unsubsidised solar energy market aims to capitalise on the favourable economic, political and environmental conditions for renewable energy in the country. Mexico’s legislation is set-up to embrace solar energy with virtual net metering and energy storage laws already on the books. Energy users are able to buy power from private energy generating projects and portfolios either located on-site or hundreds of miles away which considerably reduced energy costs.
Solar power in Mexico is relatively untapped but the country has huge potential to produce vast amounts of energy. 70% of the country has an isolation of greater than 4.5 kWh/m²/day. Using 15% efficient photovoltaics, a square 25km on each side in the state of Chihuahua or the Sonoran Desert (0.01% of Mexico) could supply all of Mexico’s electricity needs.

Bernardo Fernandez, Director Mexico, Central America and Caribbean:

“High electricity prices from traditional sources mean that there is a huge opportunity for solar PV development and renewable energy supply in the country. Following recent reforms of the energy market in Mexico, we’re now able to provide an economically viable, clean source of energy at an affordable price in what is potentially the biggest emerging solar energy market in the world”.

Traditionally, solar in Mexico has been used for projects such as space and water heating and drying crops but as the production and installation cost of solar PV has dropped larger scale projects have become more viable. Twinned with the fall in bottom line expenditure is the favourable political stance on renewables. The 2012 Climate Law requires that 35% of electricity be generated from renewable resources by 2024 and that carbon emissions be reduced by 50% below the levels of 2000 by 2050. These measures are forecast to lead to an increase of 6GW of solar capacity in Mexico by 2020 with PV and solar thermal comprising up to 5% of Mexico’s energy by 2030 and 10% by 2050.

Giles Redpath, CEO Hive Energy:

“The stage in Mexico is set to see cheaper, green, clean energy replace high-cost, carbon emitting electricity generation. Without any subsidies or FITs to roll back, Mexico’s solar market is almost certain to persist in the long term and we want to take this opportunity to supporting the fledgling solar industry with our wealth of experience, while generating employment opportunities and giving customers choice in how they source their electricity”.

Mexico’s governing energy body, the Secretaría de Energía (SENER), sees a bright future for renewables and self-supply in the country. The country plans to continue generating a major percentage of the country’s energy through CFE, but SENER forecasts that the small IPP and self-supply scheme will take on a prominent role in increased renewable energy production in the near future. SENER predicts that Mexico should have 6 GW of solar installed by 2020. At present, less than 1% of that is installed. When solar boomed onto the centre stage in Spain, Germany and the UK many more megawatts were installed than expected because “artificial” feed-in tariff (FIT) rates bolstered uptake; in contrast, Mexico is perhaps the world’s first unsubsidized “real” solar market of size. It is one of the few country’s in the world where the renewable energy source has already reached grid parity. The country’s sole electricity provider, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) sets high energy prices, which have traditionally risen by 8%-10% per annum, coupling this with the cost decrease in solar systems means the stage is set for vibrant renewable energy competition.