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Energy Partners Latin America (EPLA) will build a 150MW solar plant in Mexico's northwestern peninsular state of Baja California with a US$279mn investment.

EPLA is an affiliate of Ketchum, Idaho-based Intermountain Energy Partners, founded in 2014 in Mexico to develop renewable energy and water management projects in Latin America.

The plant will allow local industries to become offtakers via long-term power purchase agreements, reducing their electricity tariffs in comparison with their current payments to state utility CFE, while cutting the state's carbon emissions by 270,000t/y, local media reported the president of Mexico's manufacturing chamber (Canacintra) René Romandía Tamayo as saying at a press conference in Tijuana.

He said the plant will allow for up to 17% discounts on electricity rates for medium and high-tension users and reduce industrial companies' bills by US$447mn over the next 25 years, during which period electricity supply will be guaranteed by EPLA.

Construction of the plant will create 1,025 jobs, with 24 full-time jobs created over the long term for the operation and maintenance of the plant, Romandía Tamayo said.

Mexico is poised to become a solar powerhouse, given its high irradiation levels and climatic conditions.

The number of solar power companies operating in Mexico grew to over 600 last year from 46 in 2010, a 1,200% hike, according to the national solar energy association (ANES).

ANES said in early April that the Mexican solar distribution market is worth more than US$8bn and could create 500,000 jobs over the next six years.

Solar power is eclipsing wind in terms of the number of permit requests received by Mexico's energy regulatory commission (CRE), accounting for 65% of the total from January to November last year.

Of the 400 permit requests received through last August, 261 were for solar power projects totaling 7.42GW, followed by 51 for wind power totaling 4.20GW, according to the CRE.

The International Energy Agency estimates that the price of solar-generated electricity will drop to around US$144 per MW/h over the next five years, a 20% reduction from current prices; and to around US$100 per MW/h by 2018, which would make it the cheapest electricity source.

Following its energy reform last year, Mexico will emerge as the leading solar market in Latin America over the next few years, eclipsing Chile and Brazil, Adam James, a solar analyst at GTM Research, told BNamericas in a 2014 interview.

BNamericas will host its 3rd Mexico Electric Power Summit on May 13-14 in Mexico City.

Source: www.bnamericas.com
By Adam Critchley

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