Mexico, the eleventh biggest population on Earth, was all enthused about renewables a few years ago, but now they are actively winding back wind and solar and reactivating coal projects. Mines are being reopened, coal miners are being hired and the state owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has been told to buy electricity from its own coal generators before they buy electricity from the privately owned renewables generators.
López Obrador is called a populist, he talks of energy sovereignty, and speaks badly of predecessors who opened up the energy sector to foreign and private interests. He vowed to put ” at least 80% of the budget – into fossil fuels.””
David Agren in San Juan de Sabinas, The Guardian
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as Amlo, has unveiled plans to buy nearly 2m tons of thermal coal from small producers like Rivera. He also plans to reactivate a pair of coal-fired plants on the Texas border, which were being wound down as natural gas and renewables took a more prominent role in Mexico’s energy mix.
Not only is López Obrador is betting big on fossil fuels, he is also curtailing clean energy.
The CFE’s current investment plan forgoes clean energy projects entirely. And a bill for overhauling the electricity industry that was recently sent to Congress would force the CFE to purchase power from its own facilities, including coal plants, before renewables.
Renewables were blamed for a blackout in December that hit 10 million people
The shift back to coal appears to have been accelerated by a mass blackout in December which left 10 million in the dark for a couple of hours. The electricity commission blames an excess of renewable energy.
The blackout started with a fire, but renewable energy was running at a peak of 28% and the system was too unstable to recover:
“In addition, the CFE noted that at that time there was a historical maximum of integration of renewable energy into the national system, of 28.13 percent of the total national energy, which affected the support of the system.
In a virtual press conference, Mario Morales Vielmas, CFE’s general director of Legacy Contract Intermediation, indicated that if renewable energies had not contributed so significantly to the system, the failure would have been isolated and dealt with in a different way.