Phase I of the Los Azufres III geothermal plant is underway in Mexico

On 23 September, Mexico’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto, inaugurated Phase I of the Los Azufres III geothermal power plant in Michoacán. Forming part of the Los Azufres Geothermal Field, operated by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), falling within the National Infrastructure Plan 2014-2018 and commissioned in February 2015, this complex adds some 50 MW of clean energy to Mexico’s electrical system, generating net earnings for the CFE of 41 million pesos per year.

The inaugural event was well-represented by the government, as apart from the President himself, it was attended by Enrique Ochoa Meza, Managing Director of the CFE; Francisco Medina Chávez, Managing Director of Grupo FAME; Salvador Jara Guerrero, Governor of Michoacán; Jaime Esparza Cortina, Secretary of the Government of Michoacán; Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Secretary for Energy; Rafael Pacchiano Alamán, Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources; Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Secretary for Communications and Transportation; the mayoress of Zinapécuaro, María del Refugio Silva Durán, in addition to state, federal and municipal civil servants, senators and military commanders.

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With an investment of 968 million pesos, the first phase of Azufres III has a 53 MW capacity and, as already mentioned, it will generate clean energy at national level equivalent to supplying electricity to a population of some 195,000 inhabitants while occupying a surface area of just 1.5 hectares. Thanks to its clean technology, it will avoid the emission into the atmosphere of more than 177,500 t/year of CO2.

The new plant will increase the total installed capacity of the Los Azufres Geothermal Field by 17%, going from 192 MW to 225 MW, thereby adding around 404 GWh of clean energy to Mexico’s electrical system. In other words, enough energy to service a population of 800,000 inhabitants. The CFE is planning the construction of another geothermal plant in this same area, namely Los Azufres III Phase II that will have a capacity of 25 MW. The project conditions were published on 8 July, the deadline for submission of proposals ends on 30 October and adjudication will take place on 25 November this year. The CFE is currently promoting the implementation of 14 renewable energy generation projects, six of which are geothermal, with an approximate investment of US$4.4Bn.

Mexico is the first country in Latin America and the fourth largest worldwide in terms of total installed geothermal energy generation capacity after the USA, the Philippines and Indonesia. Specifically, in the state of Michoacán, 100% of the electrical power produced comes from renewable sources with 90% from hydroelectric and 10% from the Los Azufres Geothermal Field, accounting for 25% of Mexico’s installed geothermal capacity.