The Growth of the Solar Industry in Mexico
October 8, 2012
Solar energy has increased significantly in modern times, and it continues to expand as a growing source of alternative energy. Solar manufacturing in Mexico, specifically, is growing, with the rural areas in Mexico in need of the energy. An example of the increase is Kyocera, which is a Japanese manufacturing company with a plant in Tijuana, Mexico. It has placed $40 million in the expansion of its plant, and it already produces solar panels that generate 150 megawatts of energy every year. Similarly, Unisolar in Tijuana manufactures solar panels that generate 68 megawatts each year, and the company has also committed to a vast expansion plan. The growth of the solar industry in Mexico has its costs as well as its benefits, but Mexico does appear to be one rather ideal location for the manufacture of alternative solar energy.
Some of the challenges related to alternative energy manufacturing include the cost of electricity generation, which can especially soar in areas that do not often witness sun exposure. Another obstacle is the monetary and temporal cost of power plant construction. In addition, a shift to solar energy may lead to the forceful reduction of conventional electricity sources, which may frustrate the consumer and harm the economy. Namely, a compulsory restructure of energy sources may not only jar the flow of the economy but also lead to an excessive dependence on alternative energy.
In order to avoid many of the concerns with respect to solar manufacturing, the transfer of solar industry operations to Mexico has become a viable solution. The region of Mexico near the border of Tijuana and San Diego has dawned as a potential superior site for solar manufacturing practices and investments. The region contains levels of solar radiation that range between 7 and 7.5 kilowatt hours per square meter per day. Said levels are considered quite high, and high solar radiation levels are known to augment the production of solar power. Also, as an area with a vast amount of sun exposure, the cost per watt is overwhelmingly lower than relatively sunless regions, averaging approximately 15 cents per kilowatt hour as opposed to 77 cents per watt.
Another benefit of the solar industry in Mexico is its array of well educated, trainable, and affordable workforce. Solar manufacturing is typically characterized by high labor input in exchange for low product output. Operations in Mexico have led to a reduction in the need for imports from China. Unisolar of the U.S. and Kyocera of Japan, for example, actually remain competitive with the larger manufacturing regions of China and Europe. Their operations in Mexico allow Japan and the United States to spend less money on the transfer of solar energy products from China. In addition, the use of such alternative energy sources can lead to a cleaner environment, a lower outflow of greenhouse gases, and an increase in the job market and competitiveness in the trade industry.