Odón de Beun
Director General
National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy (CONUEE)
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International Collaboration Strengthens Standards

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 14:24

Q: How has CONUEE’s strategy changed as a result of the new energy landscape?

A: The impact has been collateral. The Energy Transition Law was the most significant because it added new requirements to include more planning. Our relationship with PEMEX and CFE has been one of the most impacted areas. Before the Reform, both state-owned companies had an obligation regarding energy-efficiency programs due to their status as parastatals but with their transformation into productive enterprises of the state they are no longer obliged to have these types of programs. We continue to work together, especially with CFE, to exchange information and implement a program for street lighting in municipalities. The relationship keeps changing and we continue to adapt to it.

Q: What windows of opportunity has the regulatory framework opened for boosting energy efficiency?

A: The regulatory framework forces large users to provide information about their energy consumption. We help such users by assessing their plans to implement energy management systems with the help of foreign institutions and governments. These systems strengthen the capacity of energy end users to take advantage of the Mexican power market. The market now has qualified users that can buy electric power and clean energy certificates. Energy management systems help them find the best opportunities in the new market. We are also involved in the promotion of cogeneration, which for large-scale companies means they can compete in the supply side of the power market. CONUEE also is in close collaboration with COGENERA, an association offering cogeneration-related technology and consulting, to promote this energy-efficiency alternative.

Q: Where do you see the most opportunities regarding energy-efficiency policies?

A: Everywhere. On one side, there are cogeneration opportunities where companies that waste heat can put it to better use. The bigger challenge has to do with the ntegration of technology to monitor temperature flows, energy usage and atypical events. They can analyze these in seconds instead of spending years trying to figure out what they are doing wrong or how to make their systems more efficient.

Q: Which binding mechanisms can CONUEE use to ensure compliance with its recommendations?

A: The Internal Control Organ can sanction institutions that are part of the federal administration if they fail to comply with CONUEE’s programs. The scheme that applies to large energy users is established in the Law of Administrative Processes, which defines the penalties applicable for users who do not comply with providing the information we request. The program itself implies more challenges for CONUEE because we only have two lawyers against 3,000 users that have many more lawyers. We compile the results of the gathered information in annual reports. The challenge for us is to make this information useful. We have been working with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to produce indicators of energy intensity in the industrial sector. Q: How important are strategic alliances for CONUEE? A: We basically operate with alliances on numerous issues. We have a large program for mandatory energy efficiency standards in which we have to negotiate with the industry to gain their compliance. For this, the National Chamber of Electrical Manufacturers (CANAME) is an important ally. We collaborated with them on projects such as street lighting. With energy management systems we are collaborating with the German government, through Germany Industry and Commerce (GIC) and the Institute of Metrology of Germany (PTB), and with the Danish government, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America, the US Department of Energy and engineering associations. In the process of creating standards, it is important to involve as many participants as possible.

Q: What are CONUEE’s plans for green buildings?

A: Buildings are a very important area for us. In Mexico, energy use in commercial buildings has been reported to the Energy Ministry by CFE as medium industries so the electricity balance in Mexico indicates that industrial users are the largest consumers of electricity, which does not reflect reality as buildings, both residential and commercial, consume more electricity than the industry and their consumption is growing faster. The yearly peak load of Mexico’s power system is driven by air conditioning in commercial and residential buildings. To reduce this growth, we have two standards in place, NOM-008 and NOM-020, but we depend on local governments to make compliance mandatory.

Q: What are the main challenges for industrial users implementing energy-efficiency strategies?

A: Our National Energy Management Systems Program (PRONASGEn) promotes energy management systems in 50 installations under ISO-50001 standards. Our goal is to have as many installations with energy management systems in place as possible. Companies like Bimbo and Alpura are involved in this program with support from the Danish Energy Agency. This has helped them identify opportunities they had not considered before. Bimbo found that it could use heat they presently waste to operate a cogeneration system applied to cooling systems in the company’s plants. Alpura previously had fluids circulating at high temperatures through valves that had no thermal insulation. They invested in insulation and recovered the investment in three months. The reduction of heat loss was so impressive their gas supplier called them to verify whether they had stopped operations.

Q: How are new technological trends impacting energy efficiency?

A: The drop in electricity prices that took place before the Energy Reform might be good for the economy but it made energy-efficiency investment less cost-effective. But technology is also evolving rapidly and boosting energyefficiency solutions. For instance, in street lighting we have contributed to the development of 28 systems that are now operating and saving around 38 percent electricity consumption on average. Internet of Things (IoT) solutions can reach up to 80 percent power savings because they not only make a lamp more effective but allow for remotecontrolled usage patterns. The savings come not only from energy but from operational efficiency.

Q: How do you see energy efficiency in Mexico evolving?

A: We are dealing with accelerated technological change which will require new standards and more flexible systems to design them and ensure compliance. The growth of the IoT will play an important role. Also, financing of projects and programs is important. We need to find mechanisms that deal with the fact that most energy efficiency actions are not big investments and that savings can only be estimated.