2,400-MW Manuel Moreno Torres hydroelectric facility safe from Hurricane Patricia

Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN), Mexico’s national weather service is forecasting heavy rain today in Chiapas, Mexico, home to the 2,400-MW Manuel Moreno Torres hydroelectric facility at the Chicoasen Dam, the largest hydropower plant in the country.

But so far, there are no reports of any unusual activity at the facility with regard to precipitation in the dam’s catchment as a result of Hurricane Patricia. Patricia is the Category 5-storm system SMN forecast to produce a total rainfall accumulation between 6 to 12 in.

Comision Federal de electricidad (CFE) owns Chicoasen Dam, which impounds the Grijalva River creating the Chicoasen Reservoir that has 1.3 million acre-feet of capacity.

Mexico is more reliant on hydropower than the U.S., but it does not have the developed infrastructure.

“The largest source of renewable power generation in Mexico is hydroelectric power,” according to the 2014 U.S. Energy Administration Information (EIA) analysis of Mexico. Mexico had 11,632 MW of hydro capacity in 2013, which accounted for 18% of the country’s total installed electrical capacity. Hydroelectricity supplied about 15% of Mexico’s electricity generation in 2014.

Another major hydroelectric project, the 750-MW La Yesca facility, was completed in November 2012. These larger hydroelectric projects are supplemented by smaller hydroelectric facilities (categorized as less than 30 MW each) that are being developed by both CFE and the private sector, according to EIA. The organization estimates 289 MW of smaller hydroelectric projects coming online by 2016.

Because it lacks the natural and economic resources both the U.S. and Canada have to develop hydropower on a larger scale, Mexico is not as reliant on hydroelectricity as its North American neighbors, according to EIA.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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