Luis Nava
Chief of Staff
Government of Queretaro

Auto Hub Drives Toward Solar

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 12:53

The automotive industry produced 3 percent of the national GDP and 18 percent of the manufacturing GDP in 2015, making it one of the most important sectors in the economy. By 2020, 13 brands in more than 30 manufacturing facilities are expected to produce around 5 million light vehicles, 1.6 million more than in 2015.

Much of this success is centered in one region, the Bajio. Queretaro is among the states that form part of this buoyant manufacturing area and the industry’s key players have top-billing here. “Queretaro’s manufacturing industry produced around MX$190 billion from January to September 2016, with the automotive industry making the greatest contribution at around MX$48.72 billion, 26.4 percent of all manufacturing revenues,” says Luis Nava, Chief of Staff for the Government of Queretaro.

To explain Queretaro’s success as an epicenter of manufacturing, Nava says that “some of the main drivers of this development have been our industrial strategy that focuses on developing a local supply chain and sectorial clusters. Queretaro also offers an attractive industrial and business environment as well as qualified employees for different industries. Queretaro’s economically active population is around 806,000 and more than 770,000 are employed. The manufacturing industry employs 179,845 people.”

Often overlooked but also playing a key role in the state’s manufacturing success is energy supply. “The energy sector is a crucial element for the state’s development at all levels, particularly the manufacturing and mining sectors, which need large amounts of thermal and electric energy to produce,” Nava says. The state is equipped with six power plants that provide energy to its population and different industries. “The most important facility in the state is El Sauz, a combined-cycle power plant located in Pedro Escobedo municipality with an installed capacity of 617MW. The plant also supplies energy to the states of Hidalgo and Guanajuato,” says Nava. But even with this energy infrastructure in place, Queretaro continues to be a net energy importer, driving the government to look at other options to enhance the state’s energy security.

“We see a great opportunity in solar energy, especially as Queretaro has high solar irradiation levels. We consider that having the secondary laws and regulations needed to promote the use of distributed generation in the country will lead to an important number of small and medium- scale solar systems being built in Queretaro. At a state level, we need to work on aligning the local norms to the new regulations so we can support the development of these types of projects in the near future,” Nava says.

The state would like to become an energy hub but there are several considerations that need to be addressed. “We need to balance the needs of the energy sector with that of our manufacturing industry, avoiding as much as possible the use of land for energy production that could be developed for manufacturing. But there are certain areas that have potential to host energy developments, especially areas with near desert qualities. Solar energy requires large areas of territory and strong irradiation and these areas offer both,” he adds.

To spark Queretaro’s energy transition, the government is developing a Climate Change Law, which considers the promotion of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency as the main strategies to mitigate local GHG emissions, and a Strategic Plan for the Energy Industry Development that is expected to be ready in 2017.

“This plan involves mapping the state’s potential to deploy its renewable and nonrenewable resources, taking into account its strategic position and local energy consumption and production. We will implement some specific projects according to this plan with the purpose of transforming Queretaro into an energy self-sufficient state in the medium to long term. We expect the first of these projects to launch in 2017,” Nava says. With these new initiatives in place it will not surprise anyone if solar power helps produce some of those 5 million cars expected in 2020.