Hector Olea
Mexican Association of Solar Energy
Expert Contributor

Distributed Solar Generation: Affordable and Competitive Energy

By Hector Olea | Tue, 10/27/2020 - 09:14

Renewable energies bring with them vast environmental benefits not only to the planet, but also communities and individuals. A critical step in achieving an energy transition that reduces the impact of climate change on the world is to foster their development. In terms of solar, Mexico has a privileged geographical position where about 85 percent of its territory has optimal radiation conditions to take full advantage of this energy.

Since 2007, to achieve a balance in the national electricity generation portfolio, the country has promoted the development of this and other renewable energies. As a result, we have strengthened our sovereignty over energy and secured electricity supply for millions of Mexicans. These efforts have enabled us, year after year, to develop the solar energy sector exponentially. 

The first large-scale solar power plant was put into operation in Baja California Sur in 2013. Today, 69 solar power plants are in operation in 16 states of the republic, 30 more than at the end of 2018, including the largest plant in the Americas, located in Viesca, Coahuila. The present installed capacity is 5,717MW, which represents a growth of 62 percent compared to 2018.

The development of this type of energy has also allowed the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2). The country achieved a reduction of more than 60 million tons of CO2 last year alone, which, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is equivalent to approximately 13 million road vehicles.

The development of the solar sector at the national level has represented a direct investment of US$8.85 billion and has resulted in the generation of more than 65,000 jobs throughout the value chain. 
Much of this success story has been consolidated through Distributed Solar Generation (DSG), also known as solar roofs. 

Solar roofs are solar generation systems for homes, businesses or industries that are installed "behind the meter." Their popularity comes from the many benefits they offer users by turning them into "prosumers," enabling them to generate and consume energy, with minimal operating costs and increased life span, through relatively simple installations.

All 32 states in the country have DSG contracts. Nuevo Leon, State of Mexico, Chihuahua, CDMX and Jalisco are the regions with greater installed capacity. DSG’s installed capacity in the country grew by 40 percent, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE).

The DSG model brings solar energy closer to the segments of the population that can benefit the most from this technology, such as remote communities that lack electricity grid service or connection, or small and medium-sized enterprises that generate around 80 percent of Mexico's jobs and benefit from this scheme by reducing installation and operating costs. For homes, companies and industries, solar roofs generate savings of up to 95 percent on monthly electricity rates. Because of its ability to provide competitive and accessible energy that benefits and empowers its consumers, DSG fosters development in Mexico.

Asolmex continues to work to promote Mexico's development of DSG. At the beginning of the year, members of the association spoke with members of the Chamber of Deputies' Energy Commission to promote an initiative that would raise the exempt generation capacity for this type of contract in the country from 0.5 to 1.0MW. The Senate of the Republic presented a bill with the same objective in September.
Much remains to be done, but today there are more than 129,000 solar roofs in operation, spread across homes, businesses and industries, with an installed capacity of 965MW, involving more than $2.1 billion in direct investment and generating more than 10,000 jobs across the country.

The country's growth in solar roofs contributes to reinforcing our energy sovereignty through access to clean and competitive energy across the national territory, bringing us closer to diversifying the national energy matrix. Asolmex understands the importance of promoting renewable energy development in Mexico to have a positive impact on our environment and on our communities.

Photo by:   Héctor Olea