Government Bets on Solar for Mayan Train
The National Tourism Development Fund (FONATUR) will build solar panel farms in Quintana Roo and Yucatan to guarantee the electricity supply of the Mayan Train in its electrified sections. The project, according to the institution, will be financed through CFE and its subsidiaries.
The railway infrastructure project, one of the most important of the current administration, will need between 160 and 200MW to operate normally, since more than 40 percent of its 1,554km will run on electricity. “At the beginning, we thought that the conditions for the Yucatan Peninsula electrification program were not ideal. Now, thanks to the creation of new combined-cycle plants and the authorization of solar panel parks, everything has changed,” said Rogelio Jiménez Pons, Director General of FONATUR, in a recent statement published by Milenio. Jiménez Pons also added that all profits arising from the solar project would be used to cover needs that have been neglected in terms of environmental and social spending.
In addition to guaranteeing the energy supply for the Mayan Train, the program will encourage investment, improve the well-being of regional communities and help the administration meet its environmental goals. “It is a win-win,” Jiménez Pons told Reuters. “I think this project could be the beginning of a series of actions that could be replicated in other state agencies. The Ministry of Transport itself could follow this model,” he said.
The news comes at a delicate time for renewable energy in Mexico, especially after the support that the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has given to fossil fuels. However, it may become a positive message in the face of the Green New Deal to be established by US President Joe Biden over the next four years.
The Mayan Train has been criticized for the need to develop a complex regional system. “This project is a challenge because of the geography of the areas it will cross, which are full of cenotes (natural wells) and groundwater rivers. This would mean strict due diligence in terms of rights of way and social aspects with so many communities and ejidos involved. It is also of utmost importance to highlight the importance of carrying out this project with Mexican infrastructure companies, as we can offer a more competitive price,” Guillermo Ortiz, Director General of Consorcio IUYET, told MBN.