Mexico eyes US energy exports from solar farm, chip supply chain role

Mexico’s state of Sonora Governor Alfonso Durazo speaks during an interview with Reuters in Taipe

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Mexico's northern state of Sonora wants to export clean energy to California and Arizona from a massive new solar farm project and play a role in the chip supply chain given TSMC's $40 billion investment in Arizona, Sonora's governor said.

The first phase of the Puerto Penasco solar plant in the sprawling border state, which boasts some of the highest temperatures in the country, was inaugurated in February as part of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's flagship solar push, which officials have said could boast four additional plants.

During a visit to Taiwan, Sonora Governor Alfonso Durazo said the "Plan Sonora" solar energy project would not only help improve domestic connectivity to the national grid, but also to export to the United States.

"Not only Arizona, but also California. It's part of its objective," he told Reuters on Monday. "We want to convert our state into an exporter of clean energy, particularly for semiconductor and electric vehicle industries."

Durazo said he would be meeting major Apple supplier Foxconn while he was in Taipei to discuss possible investment in his state, though was not planning to meet TSMC.

Foxconn, which has made electric vehicles a major part of its future development strategy, has large operations in Mexico but no plants in Sonora.

"Our interest in Foxconn is in establishing semiconductor plants, and also, eventually, factories of some or all the stages of e-mobility," added Durazo, who is only visiting Taiwan on this overseas trip.

Durazo said he would like a TSMC chip plant in his state, and that he would be visiting the Hsinchu Science Park, where the chipmaker does much of its manufacturing in Taiwan.

"Assuming as a natural complement of all these processes of relocation of investment in Arizona, we also see TSMC as an obvious option for Sonora state," he said.

Foxconn and TSMC both declined to comment.

Sonora also boasts major lithium deposits, which Lopez Obrador formally nationalised in Mexico earlier this year.

Mexico has yet to begin production of the metal, which is a key component for EV batteries.

To facilitate production, Durazo underlined that private investors would be able to partner up with the incipient national lithium company LitioMx on the condition they established supply chains in Sonora.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Carlos Garcia; Editing by Jamie Freed)