A sprawling fruit and vegetable market in Mexico’s capital wants to spark a greener future as the world’s biggest urban solar farm, with thousands of photovoltaic panels set to be installed this year on the seemingly endless roofs of its buildings.
The 400 million pesos ($19.9 million) roof-top solar project will cover a chaotic wholesale market that serves half a million customers daily, extending over a land equivalent to about 400 football fields.
Once online later this year, the Central de Abasto market’s roofs will power some 18 megawatts of generating capacity, according to Fadlala Akabani, the capital’s economic development minister, or enough to supply around 14,000 homes.
The project marks a rare green initiative during the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has mostly sought to prioritize fossil fuel production and power generation via two state-run energy giants – national oil company Pemex and electricity utility CFE.
The CFE is, however, designing the market solar installation and will later operate it.
During his first three years in office, Lopez Obrador has quarreled with private firms that have invested heavily in renewable power in Mexico, even pushing a reform that would cancel many existing private power projects.
“The development of large-scale (solar) projects has been on hold for over a year,” said Javier Romero of solar energy association ANES, pointing to heightened political risk and legal limbo seen undermining would-be private generators.
“Who is going to invest without guarantees?”
Solar only contributed about 5% of Mexican power generation last year, according to industry data.
But Mexican solar generation in percentage terms is greater than in the United States, where it contributed almost 3% last year, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed.
While the EIA forecasts that U.S. solar will grow to a fifth of the country’s electricity by 2050, Mexico’s state-run CFE declined to provide its own estimate.
Source: El Financiero