Sinaí Casillas Cano
Renewable Energy Coordinator
Secretariat of Tourism and Economic Development of Oaxaca
View from the Top

Wind Energy Leader Works to Become a Renewable Energy Hub

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 16:49

Q: What has Oaxaca’s historical role been as one of the largest renewable energy hubs in Latin America?

A: Oaxaca is the state with the greatest potential for renewable energy generation due to its biodiversity, as our natural resources allow for the development of wind, solar, and hydroelectric power projects. Over the past 20 years the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has been the region with the most outstanding renewable energy generation. The state has the potential for 10,000MW, it has a daily production of 2,247MW, and it is home to one of the main wind energy projects in the country. In this way, Oaxaca represents a stronghold in the fight against climate change and an important tool in reaching the 2024 clean energy objectives.

Q: What are Oaxaca’s priorities in strengthening the energy matrix through the use of alternative power sources?

A: One of Oaxaca’s goals is to become a national leader in renewable energy generation. We will take advantage of the wind power potential in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, as well as the hydroelectric potential in Paploapan, Costa Region, Sierra Norte, and Sierra Sur by implementing mini hydroelectric plants. Additionally, the Costa Region, Valles Centrales, and Mixteca Region have a valuable potential for solar energy. If the proper promotion mechanisms are put in place, it will be possible to generate 120MW of solar energy in the Mixteca and Costa regions. Linking industrial projects to renewable energies will promote job creation and the development of local human capital. Finally, it is crucial to integrate the communities so that they can also benefit from renewable power developments. We also create laws and regulations that allow the state to manage the renewable energy sector.

Q: How can the energy sector serve to close the gap between marginal regions and those experiencing significant economic development?

A: Currently, we are implementing two rural electrification projects through public-private partnerships, which are unique in their management model: Luz en Casa and Prende Oaxaca. It is expected that these programs will enable the electrification of more than 10,000 households by the end of 2016 through the use of small photovoltaic systems. So far, 3,422 systems have been installed. The government is determined to reach isolated communities that do not have access to electricity; therefore, it is helping initiatives like Luz en Casa and Prende Oaxaca with logistics, economic resources, and the design of management systems, establishing sustainability mechanisms that are lacking in most electrification endeavors in the country. We believe the development of renewable energies can foster the social and economic growth of all regions in the state.

Q: In which areas do you see the best investment opportunities for renewables in Oaxaca, and what strategies have the state government implemented to achieve its investment objectives?

A: Wind and hydropower energy projects have been the most prolific in Oaxaca, and the majority of investments have been channeled into the wind sector. At the current rate, investments will reach US$11 billion by 2024 and a generation capacity amounting to 5,000MW. In order to reach the expected investment levels, we have worked with the federal government in areas such as drafting the public consultation for Juchitan de Zaragoza, which will prioritize inclusive schemes for the indigenous communities as well as best practices. The Government of Oaxaca has carried out several studies, including the Strategic Plan for the Oaxaca Technological Park and the study for the Mexican Center of Innovation in Wind Energy in Oaxaca. It has also carried out economic, social, environmental, and financial studies for Salina Cruz and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In the latter, the authorities have emphasized studies on social factors in wind projects and the impact of the development of industries and clusters in the regional economy of Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

We are the only state that belongs to the Mexican Center of Innovation in Wind Energy. Additionally, there are several universities in the state, such as UNISMO and the Valles Centrales University, which train specialists in the energy sector. Institutions like the Isthmus Technological Institute and the Oaxaca Technical Institute also offer degrees in electromechanical and electrical engineering. The success of these programs is evidenced by the fact that a large percentage of the wind parks are operated by graduates from local universities.