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Mexico is Rapidly Increasing Wind Power Installations

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Data & Technology

Mexico ranks 24th in wind capacity and is expected to jump to 20th, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Mexico only produced three megawatts (MW) of wind power in 2005, but now has almost 400 times that amount and by the end of this year will have two gigawatts (GW). Mexico has the 14th largest economy in the world, is the 11th largest greenhouse gas emitting country, and is the world's 7th largest producer of oil. Mexico also has Mexico City, which has some of the most severe air pollution in the world.

In 2010, renewable energy accounted for 27 percent of Mexico's installed power generation capacity, and most of that came from large hydro plants. However, Mexico installed 316 MW of new wind power capacity in 2010, which represented a 156 percent increase over 2009. The GWEC attributes the growth in wind power to a "more supportive legal and regulatory framework, , the availability of new transmission capacity in the Oaxaca region, significant wind turbine price reductions, and renewed access to financing."

Reuters reports that most of the increase in wind power will come from large wind farms along the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest point between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Acciona, the Spanish conglomerate, has a $600 million project that will generate 306 MW with 204 turbines, enough to power 700,000 homes.

Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the GWEC told Reuters that Mexico's planned increase in wind power makes it the fastest growing this year in the group of 20 economic powers. Sawyer also said that Mexico's increase in installed capacity this year could be the fifth largest in the world.

"We're talking about the largest growth in wind power projects anywhere in the world," President Felipe Calderon said recently.

"The rapid growth of private sector wind is actually quite consistent with trends under the Calderon government," said Brian Gardner, Energy Analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit. "Regulatory clarity, incentives for long-term contracts and price support for renewable energy have all been quite remarkable, particularly given Mexico's still emerging market context."

"With strong wind through the south, consistent sunlight in the north and a stable market, Mexico is well positioned for continued renewables growth," Gardner added.

In January, President Calderon signed the Mexican Global Climate Change Program, an agreement to cooperate with the U.S. on environmental issues. It is a five-year, approximately $70 million program.
"It is a framework between our countries to advance towards a green economy, to make it happen now, as soon as possible, that to which we have agreed in different international fora; to integrate specific, financed green development and green economy projects," said President Calderon. "This is a very important step in the long history of cooperation between our two nations."

Last month, the Mexican Congress passed a climate change bill, making it the second country after the U.K. to pass such a law. Under the bill, Mexico pledges to reduce its carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

Photo credits: Flickr user, http://www.uhi.ac.uk/sustainable

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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