Mexico Renewable Energy

Mexico—No 100% 2050 commitment
Benchmark: 50%renewables by 2050

Geographically, Mexico is a country rich with sunlight, wind, geothermal and water resources, all with great potentials for the development of renewable energies. However, not only are the nation’s energy demands still heavily dependent on hydrocarbons, but also the government has committed to reach only 50% of renewable energy by 2050. The energy and industry sectors are aiming to reach 35% of clean energy by 2024, and 43% by 2030. The Ministry of Energy is looking to implement its long-term plans through the modernization of the energy sector and to provide more support to research, technology development, and human resources, as well as a focus on production of services and goods with clean energies. All of this is intended to become easier thanks to the Energy Reform of 2013, which has allowed the energy market to be open for private interests and more competition for the first time since 1938.

The issue with Mexico’s long-term targets is that they have remained the same since 2008, when Mexico passed a law establishing its clean energy generation targets, which includes more than just renewable sources. Sources also include cogeneration with natural gas and nuclear power. Carbon capture and storage in thermoelectric power plants are also considered under this definition. This law hasn’t changed since 2008, even with the government’s ambitious goals for the Paris Agreement negotiations and the enactment of an Energy Transition Law in 2015.

On a positive note, the 2008 Law included new short-term goals to facilitate the transition to clean energy, for example, to produce 9.5 GW of clean energy by 2018. The Ministry of Energy has also set minimum limits of clean energy consumption for big industrial consumers, under the risk of being fined if they don’t comply with them. Factories are required to utilize at least 5% of their total energy expenditure from clean energy by 2018, a percentage that will increase with time. Another example is the creation of clean energy certificates (CECs), issued by the Mexican government, that now work as binding requirements for specific participants, where those generating clean energy earn a CEC for every MWh of clean energy, and final users and electricity retailers can buy these CECs.

Several studies show that investment, installed capacity, and energy generation from renewable energy are growing slowly or even decreasing, and projections show that Mexico will keep depending greatly on fossil fuels. However, there are some projects in the works that might turn these numbers around. The biggest one of them is a solar power plant that started construction this year in the state of Coahuila, developed by the Italian multinational company “Enel”. This plant, the largest in Latin America, will have an installed capacity of 754 MW, and its goals are to generate more than 1,700 GW/h each year, enough to supply the consumption of 1.3 million homes, and to mitigate 780 thousand tonnes of CO2.

Learn More

Mexico’s Energy Reform and information on clean and renewable energies: https://sites.hks.harvard.edu/hepg/Papers/2017/Mexican%20Energy%20Reform%20Draft%201.23.pdf
Long-term and short-term goal implementation: Mexico’s commitments for climate change mitigation and adaptation for the period of 2020-2030 (in Spanish)
http://www.inecc.gob.mx/descargas/adaptacion/2015_indc_esp.pdf
Strategies for achieving the goal of 2050 (in Spanish): http://ecodie.cl/mexico-proyecta-alcanzar-el-50-de-generacion-de-energia-limpia-en-2050/
Short term actions (in Spanish) http://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/economia/mexico-va-por-50-de-electricidad-limpia-para-2050.html
Review of studies and projections on Mexico’s continued use of fossil fuels (in Spanish) http://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/39751/S1501198_es.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Enel’s solar plant project:
In Spanish: http://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/2017/03/30/1155075
In English: https://www.enel.com/en/media/press/d201703-enel-begins-construction-of-the-americas-largest-solar-photovoltaic-plant.html