SEA OF SOLAR PANELS TURNS MEXICAN DESERT GREEN
With 2.3 million solar panels—covering the equivalent of 2,200 football fields in the arid northern state of Coahuila— the Villanueva power plant, built by the Italian energy company Enel, is part of Mexico’s push to generate 43% of its electricity from clean sources by 2024. Arrayed across the sand in seemingly endless rows that stretch to the horizon, the solar panels are made to turn in tandem with the sun, like a giant field of shimmering metallic sunflowers. The $650-million project is due to produce 1,700 GW hours when fully operational— enough to power 1.3 million homes. The Villanueva plant is the largest solar project in the world outside China and India. Mexico won plaudits from environmentalists in 2015 when it became the first emerging country to announce its emissions reduction targets for the United Nations climate accord, ambitiously vowing to halve them by 2050. To get there, it is tendering clean energy projects in which private companies produce, sell, and purchase electricity in an open market.