José Fernández
Director General
The National Institute of Electricity and Clean Energies (INEEL)
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Narrower Focus Will Help Energy Industry

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 18:00

Q: On which research areas is the Institute most focused?

A: We have narrowed our interests to three main areas, which we believe are going to be the basis for future negotiations with our customers. The first is electricity, which must become greener and mindful of new technological developments. The second is related to clean energy and the preservation of natural resources such as water and agriculture. Agriculture consumes a lot of energy so energy consumption must be very efficient. The present emphasis is on distributed energy so the proximity of where the energy is produced and where it is consumed enhances the possibilities for clean energy use. The third is on enabling technologies, which refers to the professional capacity to cope with technical problems and social and technological impacts. It is a combination of artificial intelligence, mechatronics and numerical data analysis on one side and sociology, history and society on the other. This will allow us in the near future to cope with the needs of the country.

Q: What role do clean energies have in the Institute’s new structure?

A: The electrical division of the Institute remains the same, with the same clean-energy focus. The generation of electricity may come from different sources, of which some are cleaner than others, and what we should do in the future is pursue the cleaner technologies. If power generation comes from burning fossil fuels we have to make sure that is as clean as possible. We are also actively working on carbon capture and storage so it is not released into the atmosphere. Another important issue is the economic side. It was difficult during the early years of the Institute to finance wind or solar projects, but now we are capitalizing on our investment and have a more diversified portfolio.

Q: How do you expect distributed generation to impact the electricity market in Mexico?

A: It is already impacting the Mexican market. The electricity market is keen on developing distributed generation and not only solar and wind energy. This technology has been anticipated for the last decade because the most pressing needs of generation are measured in electrical substations where electricity is brought down in voltage from remote generators and conditioned for distribution. That is where you see the need for electricity in specific moments of the day and times of the year and where the markets reveal the requirements for more energy availability. Distributed generation is the technology that is changing the scene for transmission, distribution and generation.

Q: Is the Mexican electricity system ready to receive the large amount of renewable energies planned in the Energy Transition Law?

A: The electrical grid system is not prepared at all to cope with the intermittency of clean energy producers such as solar and wind farms. These technologies are suffering because transmission in Mexico is only accustomed to deal with energy generation that is easy to dispatch, which renewables are not. We have to solve the issue of where to store energy from clean energy producers when it is produced. There are different possible scenarios, for instance the use of wind and solar energy to pump water or re-pumping, which is a model studied by electricity institutions in Mexico. We need to create a new culture of clean energy, which addresses a new way of supplying customers.

Q: What is the most important contribution from the Institute to the Mexican power industry?

A: The most important contribution has been the majority of the technology and innovation assets capitalized first and foremost by CFE but also by the national and international network of suppliers that operate in Mexico. This includes the capability of the professionals that work in the electrical industry. Forty years of capacity building are properly measured by the amount of money that our customers have spent and the work they have provided to our endeavor, which allows us to foresee an attractive future.