Between 2020 and 2024, Mexico’s CFE will tender the construction of eight combined cycle power plants for a total of 5.802GW, reported Energía a Debate. The state energy production company has shown to be more selective in its tenders by cancelling four previously planned projects of this nature due to the pandemic, but nonetheless moves ahead with these projects.
A combined cycle power plant basically uses a gas turbine to generate energy. The large amounts of heat being generated is then directed toward a steam turbine nearby via a heat recovery system, which generates even more energy. The main component to get the power plant running is natural gas, which is not a renewable resource but pollutes much less than other fossil fuels, as researched by EIA.
CFE is planning the following projects for the eight tenders: CC Baja California Sur, 164MW; CC Baja California IV Cerro Prieto, 527MW; CC Mérida, 521MW; CC Riviera Maya 752MW; CC Tuxpan Phase 1, 1.086GW; CC Salamanca, 875MW; CC Tula II Phase 1.422GW and CC Norte IV Lerdo, 455MW. Between August 2020 and March 2021, one tender will be published per month, in the aforementioned order. The first power plants are expected to be operational by the end of 2023.
Mexico has access to a steady and relatively cheap supply of natural gas through imports from the US, which makes combined cycle power plants an attractive option. So much, in fact, that SENER calculated that the country relies on combined cycles for over 63 percent of its conventional energy generation. Conventional energy generation in turn accounts for 78.9 percent of Mexico’s energy generation, as 21.1 percent comes from clean sources.
Combined cycle power plants are well-equipped to deal with intermittency caused by renewable energy. “Combined-cycle plants fit renewable power generation well as they complement renewable energy intermittency, especially considering the capacity mechanism available that could provide sufficient energy to cover combined cycle’s fixed costs. Variable costs can be covered by energy market prices,” said Mitsui Power Americas CEO Ramón Moreno in an interview with MER. Even though the position of renewables in Mexico’s energy matrix is somewhat contested at the moment, more combined cycle energy generation could still generate a platform on which to build toward cleaner energy generation.