Marcelo López
Secretary of Sustainable Development
Government of Queretaro
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Industrial Growth Boosts Energy Demand

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 16:13

Q: What are the competitive advantages Queretaro offers for the development of renewable energy sources?

A: There are two notable aspects. The first relates to the state’s potential due to its geographical characteristics, mainly its solar irradiation levels. The second is due to the state’s accelerated economic growth, which is creating a demand for energy that makes large-scale power projects viable. Other states might have the natural resources but lack this consumer demand. Queretaro’s economic growth has resulted in the proliferation of industrial parks. The number of industrial parks has doubled over the past six years, and today we have 34, resulting in promising energy consumption potential. We are trying to decentralize industrial activity, moving it away from Queretaro’s metropolitan area and San Juan del Rio, and into municipalities such as Colon and El Marquez. Coincidentally, these areas have significant irradiation levels that could promote the development of solar energy projects. Q: The growth of the industrial sector creates a demand for more energy. What challenges does this create, and what is the government of Queretaro doing to address these?

A: For the government, the main challenge has been negotiating this growth and expanding the infrastructure at the pace of the investment attraction. In the case of electricity infrastructure, we have had to coordinate closely with CFE’s planning division at the state level in order to address the energy demands of companies that are arriving to Queretaro in the required timeframes.

An aspect that has facilitated the state’s growth is the fact that municipal governments work closely with the private sector in the development of industrial parks. In Queretaro, all industrial parks –except for one– were built with private investment, allowing the authorities to work on the planning stages with the investors and CFE in order to ensure that the timeframes are realistic and that we can successfully meet the companies’ needs. The challenge has been significant, but the collaboration between the state government, CFE, and the private sector has yielded encouraging results when overcoming obstacles.

Q: What strategies is the state government implementing to increase the installed capacity of renewables?

A: Today, solar has a relatively small participation in Queretaro’s energy mix, and it is mainly used to supply companies in areas, such as lighting. Although there are technological and financial obstacles that prevent the full exploitation of solar potential, foreign investors have shown a deep interest in participating in energy generation alongside industrial park developers, seeking to intertwine power generation and industrial electricity demands. The initiatives have not yet materialized due to the need for a financial model that includes land ownership, investment amortization, and arrangements with end users. Nonetheless, companies and potential end users are confident that these subjects will mature in the near future, allowing the large-scale development of solar power in the region. In this endeavor, human capital is also important. There are several initiatives in place from both public and private educational institutions regarding renewables. The state’s priority regarding education is to supply the creative, engineering, and administrative talent needed to cover the investments entering Queretaro. Talent development in the renewables sector is not extensive at the moment, although institutions are already developing programs. The business sector is attentive to the potential of this sector, but young people seem more attracted to the industrial segment due to the abundant opportunities it presents.

Q: What opportunities does Queretaro’s government see in taking advantage of the state’s growing energy demand to push a competitive and sustainable economy?

A: The opportunity in Queretaro lies in consumption, and the state’s challenge is to promote joint collaborations between the government and general private investment, such as manufacturing companies, to start exploring innovative electricity generation schemes. There are already cases of plastic injection companies that are experimenting with power generation methods in order to reduce their electricity bills. However, this is relatively new territory for Queretaro and its potential is yet to be explored. We will certainly see a rapid inclusion of renewable energy technologies in the industrial sector.