Climate-Induced Natural Gas Block Wreaks HavocBy Cas Biekmann | Thu, 02/18/2021 - 17:12
The unusual freezing temperatures in Texas have generated a host of issues that have affected energy infrastructure in Mexico and Texas. Plus, a state-backed solar initiative might benefit the Yucatan peninsula. Ready for more? Read the weekly roundup here!
Major Blackout Affects North of Mexico
Mexican authorities experience a difficult time fixing the power outage that affected 4.7 million users in the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua, after a cold wave in the north of the country froze pipelines and impeded natural gas imports from Texas. The lone star state is facing its coldest temperatures in 30 years, according to the US National Weather Service, due to an "arctic outbreak" coming from the US-Canada border region.
Brake on Imported Natural Gas Causes Problems
The situation plaguing Texas during a severe freeze is problematic for Mexico because natural gas is the baseload for its energy mix, representing over 60 percent of power production. Eighty percent of this natural gas is imported from the US. Yesterday, the governor of Texas caused problems for Mexico by ordering fuel to remain in the state to help its own struggling grid. Mexico’s government called on the US ambassador to Mexico to lobby for natural gas supply to resume.
Reuters reported that the lack of supply is causing a plethora of problems. Major OEMs like GM and Volkswagen are halting their activities because they cannot keep their operations running, according to Reuters. Energía a Debate reported that a sudden hike in gas prices is costing CFE dearly as well, with losses amounting close to US$1 billion.
Reuters: Mexico is Creating a US$1 Billion State-Backed Solar Initiative
A state-supported solar plan is currently under development, Reuters reported. The initiative could generate over US$1 billion in investment. Rogelio Jimenez Pons, Director General of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion (Fonatur), said the plan is aimed to generate solar energy for the Mayan Train and link several towns in the Yucatan peninsula, as well as important infrastructure such as the Cancun Airport. Potentially featuring storage as well, the scheme would be backed by CFE. This could change the trend surrounding the government’s seemingly negative stance toward renewable energy.
Mexico’s Path to 100 Percent Decarbonized Electricity
As a global initiative, the Path to 100 Percent movement seeks to find reliable, quick and cost-effective ways to fully decarbonize electricity. To achieve this, there a variety of paths available for every country. What would Mexico’s roadmap look like? Wärtsilä’s Business Development Executive for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Raúl Carral, sheds light on where to start. Read more about the issue and an upcoming webinar here!
IEnova Agrees to Acquire Remaining Stake in JV Wind Project Buyout
The Mexican arm of Sempra Energy, IEnova, will buy out the remaining stake for the Energía Sierra Juarez wind farm from Energía and Saavi Energía, for approximately US$83 million. The wind farm, located in Baja California, features 155MW of capacity and is the first cross-border renewable energy initiative between Mexico and the US. An expansion of the project is already under construction, reports Renewables Now.
Renewable Energy Not Responsible for Texas Power Outage
After extreme cold caused disruptions in Texas’ natural gas supply, conservative politicians and media figures began to blame renewable energy for the blackouts, NBC News reported. Frozen wind turbines have indeed added to the malaise but the lower wind performance turned out to be marginal compared to the blow received by frozen gas pipelines. Renewable energy is therefore not to blame, industry experts emphasize.
Germany Shares Worries Over Polish Nuclear Initiatives
DW reported that Poland has ambitious plans in regards to nuclear power. The plan is to build six reactors starting in 2026 onward. The plan is a significant part of the country’s efforts to move away from coal power plants and meet the EU’s clean energy goals. But the future power plants, only a few hundred kilometers away from the German border, led German politicians to demand to be kept in the loop about these plans, as safety concerns could directly affect both countries.