Mexico - Electricity Generation

The geothermal installed capacity in the country is 1,017 MWe (839 MWe running) distributed into four geothermal fields in operation (Cerro Prieto 720 MWe, Los Humeros 94 MWe, Los Azufres 194 MWe and Las Tres Virgenes 10 MWe), owned and operated by the state utility CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad). Two additional geothermal projects are currently under construction: Los Azufres III with 50 MWe and Los Humeros III-A with 27 MWe. The production was about 6,100 GWh, representing 2.4% of the total electric output in the country. About 220 production wells were in operation producing 56 million of metric tons of steam and 67 million metric tons of brine, which is disposed of by a solar evaporation pond in Cerro Prieto and by 26 injection wells. Two permits for private developments have been issued for one small-production and one self-supplying project, both located in Nayarit. There are high expectations for the geothermal energy, due to a new regulatory framework and the foundation of a national geothermal innovation center (CEMIE-Geo)( Gutiérrez-Negrín, et al., 2015). Bertani R. 6

Development since WGC2010: two new units at Los Humeros 2x27 MWe.

Installed capacity 1,017 MWe
Geothermal Electricity 6,071 GWh/y

Source:  Ruggero Bertani, Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2010-2014 Update Report


Installed geothermal generating capacity (December 2009) in MW 

Cerro Prieto720
Los Azufres188
Los Humeros40
Las Tres Virgenes10
Total958

The installed geothermal capacity in México is 958 MW from 37 units, currently operating into four geothermal fields. Cerro Prieto (720 MW), Los Azufres (188 MW), Los Humeros (40 MW) and Las Tres Vírgenes (10 MW). No new important addition has been realized since 2005, except one 5 MW unit at Los Humeros. However, the projects Cerro Prieto V (100 MW) and Los Humeros 9-10 (50 MW) have been approved and it is expected that both will be completed by 2011. All the fields are operated by Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE).

The project Cerritos Colorados (75 MW), formerly known as La Primavera, has been programmed for 2014. With the planned decommissioning of some old units, the net increase for 2015 of the country will be about 160 MW. Cerro Prieto is the oldest and largest Méxican geothermal field in operation. It is located in the northern part of Mexico, and its first power units were commissioned in 1973. There are currently 13 operating units of condensing type: four 110 MW double-flash, four single-flash of 37.5 MW each, four single-flash of 25 MW each and one 30 MW single-flash, low pressure, amounting 720 MW.

Los Azufres is the second geothermal field operating in México. It is located in the central part of the country, 250 km away from México City. The first power units were commissioned in 1982, and presently there are 14 power units in operation: one condensing of 50 MW, four condensing of 25 MW each, seven 5 MW back-pressure and two 1.5 MW binary cycle. The total installed capacity is 188 MW.

The geothermal field of Los Humeros is also of volcanic type. It is located in the eastern-central part of México, at the eastern end of the Méxican Volcanic Belt. Its power units number 1 and 2 started to commercially operate in 1990, and currently there are eight back-pressure units of 5 MW each with a total operating capacity of 40 MW. The more recent unit (Unit 8) was commissioned in April 2008.

Las Tres Vírgenes is the most recent field in operation in México. It is located in the middle of the Baja California peninsula, at the north of the state of Baja California. There are only two condensing 5 MW power units in operation that were commissioned in 2002. The electricity production from geothermal resources is quite stabilized and it plays a very important role in the energy market of the country, despite of its minimal value of 3% on the national basis. In 2008, West Indies Power drilled three slim holes at 1,000 m depth, finding temperatures of 225oC. A 35 MW project has been launched. The excess of production could be exported to St. Kitts via sub-sea cable crossing the narrow strait that separates the two islands. 

Taken from Ruggero Bertani’s paper, " Geothermal Power Generation in the World 2005–2010 Update Report ", published in Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010.