The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) recently conducted an analysis of environmental impact in the municipality of Chignahuapan, Puebla, and has plans to build an exploratory well to provide some insight regarding the geothermal resources of the region and their potential use for energy generation. The total required investment reportedly stands at US$3.3 million.
In October 2015, the Ministry of Energy (SENER) granted CFE a three-year permission to carry out geothermal exploration activities in the Acoculco Geothermal Area, which was extended by SENER in alignment with the article 15 of the Geothermal Energy Act. According to the Ecological Gazette 2022, in which this project titled "Drilling of the EAC-3 Exploratory Well in the Acoculco Geothermal Area" was revealed and described, the area surface required to develop the well is of 5,879.37m². These development plans include the construction of a 600m² dam and an access road with a width of 6m and a length of 46.56m.
The construction will be carried out in four stages: preparation and construction of the building site, drilling of the exploratory well, evaluation and, if necessary, the abandonment of the construction site. If all goes according to plan, the project is expected to be finalized within three years after obtaining the construction permits from the federal, state and local authorities. The drilling process itself, however, should take no longer than a year. Additionally, between the first two stages, the development process is said to generate up to 40 direct and indirect jobs.
The Ecological Gazette also established that the project’s development should comply with the ten guidelines of the Program for General Ecological Land Management (POEGT), such as the protection and responsible use of the natural and cultural heritage of the country, as well as the preservation of the environment. The potential location of the exploratory well, which coincides with a piece of land communally owned by the Ejido Cruz Colorada, “does not exhibit signs of forest vegetation, meaning that the project will not lead to environmental damage since no trees will not be cut down during the process,” reads the gazette.
Energía a Debate reports that Mexico has approximately 9.6GW of geothermal energy resources. Nevertheless, some experts argue that even though the geothermal energy potential in this country is outstanding, there is a lack of organized efforts to fully tap into it. For example, Genaro Hiriart, Managing Director, GEOKERI, recently said that of all the water utilized to produce electric energy, only 0.3 percent comes from underground sources.
On the other hand, El Sol de Puebla reported that the Ministry of Environment (SEMARNAT) is confident that with the use of geothermal power is indeed feasible, as geothermal power plants generate abundant, stable energy, which should enable the replacement of fuel oil to produce electricity.