Spain’s Iberdrola SA has started operations at the 766 MW Topolobampo III natural gas-fired combined cycle plant in Mexico’s Sinaloa state.

Iberdrola executives called the power plant a “highly efficient, digitally enabled, combined-cycle power plant, which aims to support Mexico’s renewable-rich grid and further renewable growth in the country.”

The plant uses U.S. firm GE Vernova’s 7HA.01 gas turbine technology and can supply power to 1.6 million Mexican homes. It lies close to the Topolobampo natural gas pipeline.

TC Energy Corp.’s $1.2 billion El Encino-Topolobampo natural gas pipeline started operations in 2018, with capacity to supply 670 MMcf/d of U.S. gas to the northwestern states of Chihuahua and Sinaloa. The pipeline can ship in gas produced in the Permian Basin in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

“Iberdrola, as a global renewable energy leader, has always been working on more sustainable power generation with a focus on investing in a portfolio of renewable energy, supported by efficient gas power,” said CEO Enrique Alba of Iberdrola Mexico. “Flexibility is essential for incorporating renewable energy sources into the grid like wind and solar power and GE Vernova’s H-Class equipment, at the heart of our Topolobampo III power plant, is crucial to support the growth of renewables power generation in Mexico.”

Iberdrola Mexico is present in 15 Mexico states with a nameplate capacity of 11 GW through 28 power plants.

Last year, Mexico’s government said state utility Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) would purchase 12 natural gas combined-cycle plants and one 100 GW wind farm from Iberdrola. The total cost was $6 billion and included a total of 8.5 GW of capacity, Mexico’s finance ministry said.

CFE said it was acquiring natural gas plants in the state of Baja California, Durango, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas. The wind farm is in Oaxaca. 

Combined Cycle Buildout

Mexico has focused its electric power buildout around natural gas-fired power plants, using mainly imported U.S. gas as its fuel. CFE has some 7 GW of combined-cycle power plants in development.

These include the 437 MW combined cycle San Luis Potosí power plant in Villa de Reyes, which is on track to come online this year. The 350 MW natural gas-fired Lerdo combined cycle in Durango is also slated to come online in 2024.

The Yucatan Peninsula combined-cycle plants in Mérida and Valladolid that would have capacities of 499 MW and 1,020 MW, respectively, are expected online at the end of 2025.

The 641 MW González Ortega combined cycle plant planned for Mexicali, Baja California and the 648 MW San Luis Río Colorado plant envisioned for Sonora are also slated for operation in 2025.

Other combined cycle projects in development include the 429 MW Mexicali Oriente in Baja California, the 202 MW Parque Industrial in Sonora, the 932 MW Salamanca in Guanajuato, the 1 GW Tuxpan Fase 1 in Veracruz, and the 256 MW El Sauz ll in Querétaro.

Mexico’s power demand is expected to boom as industrial firms move their operations to the country in a process that has been called nearshoring. Some 60% of Mexico’s power grid is natural gas-fired.