The Sonora Plan Leads Mexico’s Energy Transition: ICM
Climate Initiative Mexico (ICM) described the Sonora Plan as a turning point in Mexico’s energy policy in which renewable energies are being favored over fossil fuels. However, some experts believe that the plan is unclear and will leave the country in debt.
ICM stressed that the plan enables the transition to cleaner and cheaper forms of electricity that will allow the country to advance its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% in 2030.
However, the NGO highlighted that by the time the first solar plant in Puerto Peñasco is fully completed, it will have a production capacity of 1GW, which will not be enough to achieve Mexico’s clean energy targets. Rather, the country needs a power production capacity of 40GW to achieve its goals by 2030. "Even after the construction of several solar parks such as Puerto Peñasco, there would still be a huge gap to reach the level of capacity and generation that our country needs," ICM pointed out.
In November 2022, the initiative released a guide including cost-effective actions and climate justice proposals. The document underscores that in order to achieve a just energy transition, it is essential to take immediate action on five key points. First, Mexico must invest in transmission lines so that electricity generated from clean sources can supply households and productive sectors of the country. Second, Mexico should reconnect paused clean energy projects. According to ICM, around 2,000MW of installed renewable generation capacity is ready to operate but remains on standby. Third, Mexico must accelerate renewable energy production with a focus on social justice. This can be done by encouraging the development of solar and wind energy community projects and promoting distributed solar energy programs. The grid operator should also be dispatching the cheapest and cleanest electricity first. Finally, Mexico has to eliminate the use of coal and oil in electricity generation, as well as reduce the use of natural gas.
According to ICM, the Mexican government has to implement these policies and actions urgently in order to accomplish the country’s international climate objectives.
However, some academics believe that instead of boosting the energy transition, the Sonora Plan will leave Mexico with a large debt while climate goals remain out of reach. “It is a very complex issue. Without the resources, the country must resort to debt. This leaves us in a very vulnerable position when facing economies like those of Canada or the US,” said Guadalupe Correa, Professor, George Mason University, in an interview with La Octava.
Furthermore, Correa stated that the plan lacks a clear environmental impact study, nor does it have a sound cost-benefit analysis. "People were promised jobs, greater professionalization for young people and access to technology without anticipating what the cost will be… Is this really going to do the general population any good or will it just benefit an elite of politicians and businesspeople? We deserve to know the real implications of these projects," she asserted.
So far, the Sonora Plan promises a slew of projects regarding solar and wind power generation, semiconductor production, the development of the liquefied natural gas industry, water desalination, lithium battery supply and boosting the automotive sector in the area, among other projects.