World's Richest Man Puts His Money On Solar In Mexico

Microm - a subsidiary of Grupo Condumex owned by the world's richest man, Carlos Slim - has installed a 1MW PV array in northern Mexico.The pilot project in Santa Rosalía, Baja California, was inaugurated by Mexican President Felipe Calderón. The plant, which has 4,000 panels, will serve as an experimental model for the state-owned electricity utility, CFE, in its drive to develop renewable energy, says Calderón.

Microm, established in 1996, is involved in developing solar and wind. By the end of the year, 14MW of solar should be in operation in Mexico, although the Energy Ministry estimates that the country has the potential for 1.5GW.

The Microm project is a starting point for the large-scale development of the technology in Mexico, according to the ministry. The government is supporting 200MW of solar, and private self-supply projects are also being developed. Grupo Musa, a Mexican real-estate company, and Synergy Technologies, a US energy developer, are planning a 450MW concentrating PV project near the city of Tecate, just south of the US border. Construction of the first 50MW stage is expected to begin this year. Calderón has focused on renewables as a priority element of his national energy policy, which is linked to economic growth. The plan includes a goal of sourcing 26% of energy from renewables by the end of this year, which includes more than 1GW of wind capacity in operation; 1GW in construction; and 1GW permitted. Mexico also has a goal of sourcing 35% of its energy from renewable by 2024.