Over half of Mexico’s new power capacity through 2024 will be renewable

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Mexico’s energy ministry estimates that more than half of the estimated 21.3 GW of electric capacity additions expected by 2024 will be renewable, according to its updated development plan for the national electric system (known as Prodesen).

Hydroelectric power will contribute a relatively small percentage of the total, just 1.3%. Nearly half (45.4%) will be provided by new combined cycle units, such as those being tendered by federal power company CFE that involve 4,322 MW of capacity. After that come solar parks with 24.8%, followed by wind with 13.4%. Distributed generation is expected to contribute another 12.5%, largely thanks to solar projects. Hydroelectric, battery storage (0.12%) and biomass (0.05%) technologies are also expected to make contributions.

The plan highlights that renewable generation is likely to keep growing in the coming half decade despite regulatory and legislative changes aimed at boosting CFE and discouraging clean energy generation and the construction of privately owned projects. However, according to the ministry, these additions will not be enough to allow Mexico to meet its legally mandated clean energy requirements between 2023 and 2025.

While clean energy generation is expected to stay flat in 2022 and 2023 at 32% of the total and fall to 31% in 2024, targets will increase from 30% this year to 32% in 2022, then to 33% in 2023 and 35% in 2024. The latest data from grid control center Cenace shows that, as of this May, clean energy generation accounted for 27.3% of the total, far from the 31% the ministry estimates for the end of the year.

According to the ministry, after 2025, clean energy generation is projected to rise rapidly and meet the environmental law’s requirements of 36% in 2026 and remain above the targets until 2035.

The latest ministry data shows that as of April this year, private sector companies owned the vast majority of non-conventional renewable assets in the country, with CFE operating 86 MW of wind capacity and 6 MW of solar, whereas private players had 6,993 MW and 7,020 MW, respectively. CFE’s non-polluting capacity is concentrated in hydroelectric (12,125 MW) nuclear (1,608 MW) and geothermal (951 MW) power.

While the company has said it plans to expand its photovoltaic and wind-based generation park, it has also outlined plans to build six large-scale combined cycle units. The firm has also said it plans to develop 8,080 MW in new clean energy projects before the end of the current administration in 2024. These include nuclear, geothermal and hydroelectric plants.

Mexico’s government has backed CFE’s generation through an overhaul of the electricity law that would alter economic dispatch priority to bump up the company’s hydroelectric and thermal units to ensure they can generate before privately owned assets. The law remains suspended by federal courts pending a series of appeals. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said his administration will pursue constitutional changes that would benefit CFE and increase transmission rates in the national system.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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