Officials in Mexico are reporting that Juárez, Mexico has become the largest center for solar panel manufacturing in Mexico, as well as in all of Latin America.
Mexican Secretary of Economy, Idelfonso Guajardo Villarreal, and state and local government officials and company representatives officially inaugurated a new Flextronics manufacturing plant last month that has begun producing an extremely high volume of solar panels for US-based SunEdison, Inc. The plant has the capacity to produce 1.3 million panels per year, and has handed the border region yet another claim to fame in the business world: solar panel manufacturing in Mexico is big and Ciudad Juarez and dominant in Latin America, as a whole. The plant currently occupies five production lines to churn out three solar panels every minute. This effort occupies 1,100 employees. Each panel measures six feet by four feet and has the capacity to generate 320 watts each for commercial use for which it is assigned.
In April of this year, SunEdison, Inc. announced their agreement to add a Flextronics facility in Mexico as part of their global fleet of manufacturing plants. This is an expansion of their ongoing partnership with Flextronics who has provided solar-panel manufacturing plants for the company in Ontario and Malaysia since 2011. Now they are in the business of solar panel manufacturing in Mexico.
Mexico and Solar Energy
While Ciudad Juárez is a clear national leader in the production of solar technology, Mexico as a whole is a prime spot for the manufacture and use of solar energy technologies. The country is ranked #43 among the nations of the world for solar favorability. Even China has considered solar panel manufacturing in Mexico due to its proximity to the US market, as well as for purposes related to the minimization of duty restrictions. Diversified Mexican conglomerate, Grupo IUSA, announced in late 2014 their plans to invest around $200 million into a Mexican facility with a goal of producing 500MW annually. Additionally, earlier that same year, the Mexican government unveiled a new Aura Solar plant worth over $100 million in La Paz, Baja California.
Experts attribute the strong forecast for Mexico’s solar future to heavy investment coming in from both foreign and domestic sources, which will enable the country to expand their vision and sales outside its domestic market. Mexico is already an energy exporter, but plans are now in the works to increase energy exports due to the augmentation of in-country solar capacity. Additionally, Mexico is honing its skills in providing solar arrays and infrastructure to heavily rural areas of Mexico to deliver solar energy to 1 million of the country’s off-grid population.
SunEdison, Inc. stated their choice of Juárez, Mexico was largely driven by the strategic value of its location relative to the US, and because of the Mexico’s improved railway and road infrastructure. The nation has placed the upgrade of its infrastructure and the reform of the Mexican energy sector at the forefront of its national economic priorities in the past few years by taking the historic step of privatizing the energy sector, and investing heavily in new and improved conduits for ground transport. A portion of the aim of recent reforms has also included the insertion of a new focus on producing and using renewable energy sources such as solar. The country plans to produce a third of the energy that it consumes from renewable sources by 2024. Solar panel manufacturing in Mexico will play a significant role in the ultimate achievement of that goal.
Government officials believe the results in just the past year are clearly working. In response to the news of the Flextronics plant, Mexican Secretary of Economy Idelfonso Guajardo Villarreal stated, “In less than a year of passing the energy reforms in Mexico, this is clear evidence of their results.” He went on to add, “Today the country has the best production line chain to manufacture photovoltaic panels.”