Odón de Buen

Pushing for Mexican Energy Efficiency Standards

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 11:20

The National Commission for Energy Efficiency (CONUEE) was created in 2008 to promote energy efficiency and to serve as a technical body for sustainable energy use. Two laws provide strength to CONUEE: the Law for the Sustainable Use of Energy (LASE) and the Law for Methodology and Standardization (LMN). The LMN is the base of the 25 NOMs (Mexican Official Standards), which are at the core of the organization. “Energy efficiency is reached through these norms since most of them include improvements in energy saving characteristics of products,” says Odón de Buen, President of CONUEE.

Based on the LMN, tests must be run in laboratories with certifications being given by specific organisms, all of which are accredited by the Mexican Entity of Accreditation. From de Buen’s perspective, it is a very solid system that provides technical certainty, while the norms allow higher energy efficiency to be reached by ensuring that products entering the Mexican market meet high performance standards. As a result, new energy efficiency programs have surged, such as public lighting programs in municipalities. By complying with CONUEE norms, the organizers of such programs can receive payments proportional to the cost of the project. “The key function of this commission is to give technical certainty on performance and the quality of products. But when there is technological change, low quality products may appear in the absence of normalization,” de Buen states.

De Buen argues that a lot more can be done to save energy at lower costs than generating energy from renewable sources. However, energy saving programs are not visible and therefore do not gain political traction. “The NOM-015- ENER-2002 was created to certify the energy efficiency of refrigerators and was published a decade ago. While its implementation avoided the necessity for several power plants, these energy saving are hardly noticed by the wider public, which prevents them from being popular,” he says. Water heaters are another source of high energy consumption. CONUEE created the NOM for water heaters and ensures the quality and efficiency of heaters to mitigate energy consumption.

CONUEE has been an observer of energy efficiency programs such as the Energy Saving Program and the Sustainable Lighting Program. “For public lighting, a LEDbased program is being considered. CONUEE participates by offering technical insight and providing the quality norm for such products,” he says. Though such programs are generally held to have had great success, de Buen sees a need for evaluation instruments to increase their effectiveness in the future.

Repositioning itself to be recognized as a reliable technical organization to work with has become a general priority for CONUEE. The commission is demanding that large industrial consumers become ISO 50001 certified. For example, CONUEE is now working on certifying PEMEX and CFE. Another important issue is strengthening its relationship with municipalities. “We need to reinforce the norms for buildings since air conditioning has become a basic need in many areas of Mexico. We are very interested in cooperating with municipalities to improve compliance with these norms,” explains de Buen.

CONUEE’s goal continues to be the broad implementation of energy saving practices through the development of regulatory instruments that promote professional certifications,” says de Buen. As technological changes become a reality, the competitiveness of renewable energy is rising and costs will become lower, but in de Buen’s opinion, the Mexican energy sector will continue to move very slowly. “Small companies can make a big difference in the energy market and that is why the private sector is crucial. They need to assume part of the risk, provide financing, and bring technology to the country. CONUEE has to manage the technological changes from the demand side and guarantee the quality of innovative products.”