Recently, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed an agreement to purchase geothermal power from Mexico. The deal technically was already in effect. In December, Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power (DWP) bought 25 megawatts from Mexico, and in January bought 50 megawatts. The power comes from the Cerro Prieto geothermal plant in Mexicali, Baja California.
Cerro Prieto is a 100 megawatt plant with four 25 megawatt turbine generators. Owned by the Commission Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Mexico's national utility agency, it
is located in Mexico's geothermal area, "one of the largest geothermal power producing areas in the world." It has over 650 megawatts of geothermal generation currently in place.
The purchase of geothermal power from Mexico helps Villaraigosa meet his goal of 20 percent of Los Angeles' power coming from renewable sources by 2010. According to the DWP, 10.6 percent in October came from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.
Mexico also has a similar deal with Belize, which heavily relies on Mexico for its power, and is finalizing an agreement with Guatemala, which will bring its sale of energy to other countries to $100 million by 2010.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Mexico "places great importance on the development of renewable energy." The DOE believes that the continued growth of Mexico's renewable energy sector is likely.
In 2006, the Mexican government's secretary of energy "conservatively predicted important increases in installed capacity for hydropower, wind energy, and geothermal energy" for the period 2005 to 2014. By 2005 the Mexican government had approved over 50 renewable energy projects which were completed by end of 2007, and accounted for 1,400 megawatts of electricity.
In addition to exporting power from geothermal sources, renewable energy manufacturing in Mexico is also on the upswing.
In March, Kyocera finished its Tijuana based solar photovoltaic modules manufacturing plant. The plant is a two-story, 223,000 square feet, plus 28,000 square foot facility that connects it to a pre-existing Kyocera solar PV plant. It will have an annual production capacity of 150 megawatts, enough to equip 42,000 houses every year with 3.5 kilowatts of power.
"Kyocera gives us a clear case of how we can transform critical moments into new opportunities using long-term vision," said Mexican President Felipe Calderón. "I know that Kyocera will sell these panels quickly as warm bread, even before the U.S. economy recovers, especially with a society that is clearly looking to renewable energy, such as California."
Last fall, Sanyo announced plans to increase the solar modules production capacity at its factory in Monterrey, Mexico. According to Sanyo, the production increase will serve the rising demand for solar power in its North American market. The current annual production capacity of the Monterrey factory is 20 megawatts of solar modules, which it will increase to 50 megawatts.
VienTek, a venture of Mitsubishi and TPI Composites, operates two wind turbine blade manufacturing plants in Juarez, Mexico. The plants employ over 900 people, and from 2002 to 2007 alone produced over 4,000 wind blades.
The German company, Q-Cells AG, the largest producer of solar cells in the world, announced plans last year to build a manufacturing plant in Mexicali. The 150 acre plant will produce thin-film solar cells.