The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) Solar World Congress may be an international event, but this year, Mexico stole the show. Not only was it hosted by the Asociación Nacional de Energía Solar (ANES)—Mexico’s leading solar association—in Cancun this November, almost half of the attendees were from Mexico. That is an impressive figure for a solar market that is still under 100 MW, but growing fast.
The 2013 Solar World Congress maintained a significant focus on solar in the developing world, with speakers including representatives from the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, among others. Mexico was also well represented with speakers from La Secretaría de Energía (SENER), equivalent to the U.S. Department of Energy, and La Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), the national utility, who spoke eloquently about the potential for solar in Mexico, and the challenges of deployment.
It became abundantly clear that Mexico is one of the highest-potential solar markets in the world. First, Mexico is a relatively large electricity market, about equivalent to California’s electricity market, but growing much faster. Second, Mexico gets nearly one-third of its electricity from oil, which is very expensive. Finally, Mexico has some of the best solar resource in the world.
The challenges in Mexico are those shared by many emerging solar markets—evolving land ownership laws, new interconnection standards, developing production compensation schemes, rapidly growing demand for skilled labor, and lack of ancillary resources such as detailed data on solar irradiance availability and variability. Fortunately, many of these issues are improving, and we are working with our collaborator in Mexico, Solartronic, to make sure that good solar irradiance data and forecasting are available in Mexico.
We were not just attendees at the Congress, we were also presenters in a session titled, “Using Innovative Software Tools to Help Grow Solar Energy in Mexico.” Presenting with us were Vicente Estrada-Cajigal from Solartronic, Professor Richard Perez from SUNY Albany, and Serafín López Pineda from CFE. We covered topics ranging from the availability and accuracy of satellite-based irradiance data in Mexico, to applications of that data, including software quoting tools and CFE’s use of SolarAnywhere data to site utility-scale projects.
The market in Mexico is poised for rapid, organic, unsubsidized growth. There are few more attractive markets in the world for solar than Mexico, and we are excited to be a part of this growth that will benefit the entire country.