Wind energy is emerging as a competitive option within the Mexican electricity market, and the Secretariat of Energy (Sener) issued a Special Program for the Use of Renewable Energy. A 2,000-MW, 400-kV, 300-km electrical transmission line for wind energy projects in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is under construction.
The Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) awarded contracts for two IPP (Independent Power Producer) 100-MW wind power plants and also issued a call for bid for another three IPP 100-MW projects. As stated by the Mexican Wind Energy Association (AMDEE) and in accordance with permits granted by the Energy Regulatory Commission, about 2.5 GW of wind power capacity should be installed by the end of 2012.
It is estimated that full implementation of technologically and economically feasible wind farm projects would lead to the construction of 10,000 MW of wind generation capacity. Mexico’s largest wind energy resource is found in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca. Average annual wind speeds in this region range from 7 m/s to 10 m/s, measured 30 m above the ground.
It is estimated that more than 3,000 MW of wind power could be commercially tapped there. Using reliable and efficient wind turbines in this region could lead to annual capacity factors over 40%. The Mexican states of Baja California and Tamaulipas are emerging as the next wind energy deployment regions.
National Objectives and Progress
In accordance with the Special Program for Renewable Energy, by the end of 2012 wind energy installed capacity will be close to 2,500 MW. Assuming this capacity operated at an average of 35% during 2013, contribution of wind generation to national electric demand will be around 3%.
La Venta I, Guerrero Negro, and La Venta II were the first experiences in the implementation of wind energy in Mexico and are owned and operated by the CFE.
Parques Ecológicos was the first privately owned wind energy plant in Mexico, (the main investor is Iberdrola Renovables). It is supplying electricity for a number of private companies.
EURUS is the largest wind power plant in Latin America, (owned by CEMEXand Acciona) and is aimed at supplying around 25% of the CEMEX electricity demand.
Eléctrica del Valle de México has the largest wind turbines installed in Mexico, 27 2.5-MW turbines Clipper Windpower. La Rumorosa 1 is the first wind farm project for public municipal lightning.
Certe-IIE is the first Mexican wind turbine test center and was supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) by means of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and is the first small wind energy power producer in Mexico.
La Venta III is the first IPP wind energy project. The contract awarded includes a complement to the electricity buyback price of about 0.015 USD/kW that will be granted by GEF through the World Bank.
Contribution to electrical demand
Official information from wind farm plants constructed during 2009 is not available yet. It was estimated that wind generation was 500 GWh, which means around 0.25% of national electric demand.
Potential reduction of CO2 emissions for the year 2010 is 873,862 t, assuming the capacity already commissioned by the end of 2009 operates at 40%, and considering a mitigation rate of 0.6 t CO2 per each wind generated MWh.
National incentive programs
The Law for the Use of Renewable Energy and Financing of Energy Transition is a sound signal from the government of México regarding both political will and commitment for implementing energy diversification toward sustainable development. The main elements of the strategy in the law include: presenting strategic goals; creating a Special Program for Renewable Energy; creating a green fund; providing access to the grid; recognizing external costs; recognizing capacity credit; encouraging technical standards for interconnection and infrastructure for electricity transmission; providing support for industrial development; and providing support for research and development.
Some of the regulatory instruments for this law have already been issued while others are still under development. The existing incentives are:
Model agreement for the interconnection of renewable energy power plants to the national electrical grid (2001), allows administrative interchange of electricity among billing periods
Accelerated depreciation (up to 100% in one year) (2004). Recognition of certain capacity credit for self-supply projects.
Issues affecting growth
There is a critical need to include fitting and fair social benefits to wind landowners (especially to peasants) in the negotiation of wind power projects. Planning studies for deploying wind power at the national level have not yet been carried out.
By the end of 2009, it was estimated that the total investment in the construction of wind power plants is around 850 million USD. Assuming that around 80% of this amount corresponds to the cost of the wind turbines, the rest, around 166 million USD, could be considered as the economic distribution to México. Nevertheless, still a good part of the work is carried out by foreign employees.
The Spanish wind turbine manufactures Acciona Windpower and Gamesa Eólica are leading the Mexican wind turbine market, but other prestigious companies like Clipper Windpower, Vestas, and Siemens have been awarded important contracts.
CEMEX is playing the main role regarding investment in wind energy projects for self-supply purposes. Iberdrola is playing the main role in implementing wind energy projects for selling electricity to both big and medium electricity consumers under the creation of selfsupply consortiums. With the support of the federal government, the government of the state of Baja California is leading the implementation of a 10-MW wind energy project for public municipal lighting. This project will be commissioned in early 2010.
The Mexican company Potencia Industrial S.A. de C.V. is manufacturing PM electric generators for Clipper Windpower. More than 200 Mexican companies have the capacity to manufacture some parts required for wind turbines and wind power plants. The country also has excellent technical expertise in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering that could be tapped for plant design and construction. The new law for renewable energy instructs the Sener and the Secretary of Economy to promote manufacturing of wind turbines in Mexico.
During 2008, the combined electricity production from CFE’s wind power plants, La Venta I (1.3 MW) and La Venta II wind farm (83.3 MW), was around 254 GWh. The facilities operated at an annual capacity factor of 34%, according to the manager of the wind power plants. It was expected that the capacity factor of La Venta II would exceed 40%; however, there were some constraints regarding the availability of the transmission line and some of the wind turbines. Operational details for the new privately owned wind power plants are not yet available. It is expected that the major indicators would be released by late 2010.
Wind energy costs
Investment cost for installed wind energy projects in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are around 2,000 USD/KW (1,388 €/kW). In that region, the levelized generation price over a 20-year period is around 0.065 USD/KWh (0.045 €/kWh).
R, D&D Activities
With the economic support of the GEF and the UNDP, the Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas (IIE) implemented a Regional Wind Technology Center (WETC) (Figure 3). In 2009, a special class of wind turbine prototype was installed in the WETC for testing purposes. The 300-kW wind turbine is manufactured by the Japanese Company Komai Tekko, Inc. According to the manufacturer’s specifications, the potential use for this turbine is distributed generation. It will be appropriate especially where access is difficult, turbulence intensity is up to 20%, and seismic hazard is high.
With the support of the Sener and the National Council for Science and Technology, the IIE is working on national capacity building on the most relevant topics involved in the implementation of wind energy. The IIE is also carrying out specific studies and projects for CFE.
During 2010, at least five wind power plants accumulating 207 MW will be commissioned, and the implementation of wind energy in other states will begin, particularly in Baja California and Tamaulipas. In addition, at least five wind farm projects totaling 498 MW will start construction and be commissioned during 2011. This will bring the total generation capacity to at least 1,120 MW by the end of 2011. It is expected that, triggered by the commissioning of the wind energy 2,000-MW electrical transmission line, several other privately owned projects will start construction in 2010 or early 2011 to be commissioned by the end of 2012. It is anticipated that by the end of 2012, the total wind generation capacity will be around 2,500 MW.
Author: Marco A. Borja, Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas (IIE), Mexico. www.ieawind.org