Droughts in Mexico Stop Clean Energy DevelopmentBy Sofía Hanna | Fri, 04/30/2021 - 16:15
Droughts in Mexico are becoming more frequent due to climate change. In addition to their impact in the agricultural sector, they also represent a new challenge for the transition to clean energy in Mexico. The Mexican government has placed most of its plans and bets on hydroelectric energy, mostly owned by the CFE. However, taking into account the droughts, it seems that the plan will have to change.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been clear about his plan to have the country transition to clean energy, which revolves around hydroelectric energy. The National Water Commission (Conagua) recently announced that 83.9 percent of Mexico is going through a drought, mainly caused by a decrease in rainfall and, with this, the country’s water resources have also fallen, according to Inforural. In addition, the main body of water that feeds the center of the country is currently at 46.2 percent of its capacity. Lake Cuitzeo, in Michoacan, is 70 percent dry and has a high risk of disappearing. Despite this, the government has continued to generate hydroelectric energy, even though water is scarce. According to the Inforural article, other options are not being sought because the state-owned CFE manages 60 hydroelectric plants. This is the only clean energy option developed by CFE.
These plants have increased their production by over 80 percent, in some cases more than 100 percent, over the same period last year, according to the National Center for Energy Control (Cenace). The problem is that the water that is used to generate electricity cannot be used later; it is water considered lost. Ricardo Granados, from the Energy Mexico Ombudsman organization, mentioned that “When it is decided that the dispatch is going to be continuous, the water in the reservoirs begins to drop and, in a situation like now with record temperatures, we are not using it strategically nor saving it for when it is needed ... We need to see the dams as if they were batteries, we must save the water for when it should be used”. The country has about 180 dams, which are the main water storage vehicle. The concessioned water must be prioritized for human consumption and then for electricity generation.