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SIEC 2021: CFE Moves Decisively Towards Renewable Energy

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Fri, 08/06/2021 - 10:45

The Federal Electricity Commission’s (CFE) renewed gravitation towards renewable energy projects indicates  that the company has begun to understand that all the world´s electrical systems are making the transition. For Mexico in particular that points towards strengthening the National Electric System (SEN) said Cesar Hernandez Ochoa, founding partner of Publius Consulting and former commissioner of National Commission for Regulatory Improvement (CONAMER) at the International Symposium of Energy (SEIC).

Following its 2021 – 2025 business plan, the state productive company (EPE) did not anticipate renewable energy projects until 2027. Despite this, within the first half of the year, the company has done a 180 announcing a series of renewable generation projects and transmission reinforcements.

As early as March, the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (FONATUR) announced they would be building ten solar parks to generate the electricity needed for the 690 km-long Maya Train. This was followed by an announcement by its Strategic Planning Directive Commission in June which confirmed six renewable energy generation projects, requiring an investment of almost US$3 billion  that were being prepared for the bidding process. Its most recent project announcement was the Sonora solar energy project in Puerto Peñasco, set to be completed by 2023, expected to require more than US$1 billion in investment.

The Program for the Development of the National Electricity System (PROSEDEN) for 2020 – 2034, published in late June, details more than 199 transmission projects, which it deems necessary to not only establish the reliability of the electricity grid in Mexico, but also connect renewable infrastructure built by private initiatives.

“What we are seeing is that at least in 2021, CFE will take a turn towards clean generation, towards reinforcing transmission, and making investments that are important for the reliability of the network. There, the big question is whether it is a green washing issue, or if they really are projects that have the intention of improving the profile and quality of the country's electricity generation. I think it is the latter,” said the former SENER Subsecretary of Electricity.

As renewable energy technology replaces coal as the cheapest energy source, this redirection by the state enterprise is not only timely, but correct. As pointed out by Mr. Ochoa, it is understandable and necessary to view this change with skepticism given that past projects have been announced only to be shot down later. However, for the good of the energy sector and Mexico as whole, it is imperative that CFE maintain its current momentum towards renewable energy technologies.

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Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst