Eduardo Meraz
Former Director General
CENACE
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View from the Top

Mexico’s Grid Stabilizer

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 12:24

Q: What type of technologies play a dominant role for CENACE in modernizing the National Electricity System (SEN)?
A: Renewable generation technologies with the capacity to regulate voltage and generation through the application of smart grids contribute in the security of the network. In addition, these technologies support the reduction of congestion and restrictions that could affect efficiency within operations. The transmission of energy based on direct current, energy storage systems and the massive and open use of information for better decision making are all factors that play an important role in the modernization of the SEN.
Q: What challenges does the integration of more clean energy sources to the grid pose to the SEN?
A: It is important to specify that an energy matrix with a greater share of clean energies will make a great contribute to the reduction of polluting emissions compared to other fuels. In addition, it would be ideal if part of this clean energy can come from intermittent sources such as solar and wind energy, which will depend on having enough wind and solar irradiation for adequate production levels. Energy production would very much obey to the weather conditions. However, the fact that these production levels experience constant fluctuations cannot be disregarded. This for the SEN implies that it must operate compensating the intermittency of this generation to maintain the generation-demand balance.
Q: What have been the measures taken to ensure this intermittency does not act as an obstacle for delivering a continuous electricity supply?
A: CENACE evaluates operating conditions in terms of the participation of these intermittent energy sources and determines the amount of generation that is possible to produce at that moment. It also considers the conditions of the rest of the system in order that these renewable sources do not put at risk the secure and continuous operation of the electricity system. We analyze how to acquire more flexibility and capacity from other energy sources to substitute the variation of intermittent injections. CENACE establishes the availability of flexible sources that can increase and decrease generation rapidly. We contemplate remunerations for the generators that offer these capabilities. For instance, these would include hydro power plants, modern units that have these characteristics and energy storage systems comply with these requirements.
Q: What does CENACE propose to motivate the installation of small-scale clean generation units?
A: Although industry participants have protested that high costs in the interconnection studies for small scale clean generation plants place its development at a disadvantage, in the Interconnection and Connection Manual published in 2018, there are significant reductions in these costs for smaller projects. These costs reflect an approved value by CRE, which bases its determination on the resources that are needed to execute this process. It is important to highlight that these studies will always be necessary so that it is possible to gauge the impact that the interconnection of a new generating plant or load on the development of the SEN.
Q: How is CENACE preparing itself for the introduction of distributed generation systems into the grid?
A: Distributed generation has to be introduced based with a more preventive regulation as its foundations so it does not cause future problems in the electricity system. It is important that its entrance complies with the standards and norms that have been applied in other countries where this generation scheme has increased in importance. The grid code outlines the current requisites that are needed for this transition, but future updates have to be contemplated.
Q: What are the main challenges that CENACE has to address in the coming years?
A: Our primary targets are threefold. Firstly, we aim to successfully continue operating the electricity system while promoting the incorporation of much more renewable energy generation. Secondly, we want to ensure a more competitive and sufficient energy market, and we want this efficiency to in turn be reflected in more competitive costs for all kinds of consumers. And finally, we aim to provide adequate information to facilitate smart decision-making for every player involved. Investors, market participants and the energy industry authorities will need this information to determine and evaluate the development of the market mechanisms.
Q: What key elements will represent a step-forward for the WEM looking toward 2019-20?
A: There are several variables that can be measured to gauge the success of the WEM in the coming years. One of the most important indicators will be the rate of new participants entering the market and taking part in electricity-related activities. Another factor is the entrance of new and more competitive generation infrastructure, which will boost the national industry. Finally, the development of infrastructure for the electricity network that will allow us to send the most economic energy to all regions of the country.
Q: What is CENACE’s contribution to the maturation process of the WEM?
A: CENACE greatly promotes the widespread diffusion of the market mechanisms, which grant many more options to those who buy and sell energy. Knowledge of the options available to them is always beneficial for the consumer. In addition, the responsibility this entity has a responsibility to serve the network with honesty and transparency through an attitude of service that takes into account every market participant. Finally, supply reliability will be obtained by having a market with sufficient competitive offer of supply and demand that can respond to the system management based on prices and demand control incentives.