Network needed for Mexican wind growth

MEXICO: The southern Mexican state of Oaxaca has the wind power potential to supply most of the nation's electricity needs but requires the network infrastructure to do so, according to Fernando Mimiaga, the regional government's head of economic development.

Mimiaga says the state has the potential to supply two thirds of the country's electricity needs by 2024. Mexico's energy ministry estimates the country will need around 42GW of total capacity by this time. With average wind speeds of nine metres per second and 800 watts of energy per square metre, Mimiaga estimates the state has a total potential capacity of 29GW.

Oaxaca already has a three-phase programme to develop its wind sector under consideration, says Mimiaga: 2.57GW in the first stage, due to end in 2012; and 2.5GW more in a second phase, planned for 2015.

Mimiaga's long-term goal is for Oaxaca's wind assets to be used to develop the largely rural state into an industrial centre. "In the third phase we hope to attract factories that will need energy, steel in particular ...

because we have iron ore deposits in the region," he says, adding that after the second planned phase, a lack of infrastructure will limit further growth. "That is when we would saturate the network and would have to stop," he says.

Eventually, Mimiaga believes Mexico could supply all of its energy needs from wind power. "Oaxaca represents two thirds of the country's potential electricity capacity; but there is also potential in the Yucatan peninsula and the states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Baja California and Sinaloa," he says.

These comments echo those of Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, speaking at the world climate talks in Cancun in December. "In preliminary estimates, if we could put to work all of wind energy's capacity, it would be enough to give power to all of Mexico," he said, estimating the nation's wind power potential at around 71GW.

Mimiaga says that Oaxaca's flagship projects for 2011 would be La Venta II and the Oaxaca I, II, III and IV projects. All are being built by Spanish firms and will each have an installed capacity of around 101MW. The five developments are in or close to Santo Domingo Ingenio, in the Juchitan de Zaragoza district that hosts the bulk of Mexico's wind assets.

La Venta will be developed by Iberdrola, Oaxaca I by Grupo ACS and the three remaining projects by Acciona.

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