The CFE knows that its reform is dirty

Even the CFE knows that, if the electricity reform promoted by the government is approved, its energy will be much dirtier. Today, 61.6% of the electricity that the CFE generates uses fossil fuels. But, with the reform, this number will rise to 75.9 percent. They are data from the CFE itself, delivered to the Congress of the Union for the forum on February 8 of the open parliament.

A retracement of that size, of 1,430 basis points, is not easy to achieve in such a short time. It’s the kind of feat that requires a combination of factors. The first is that, in absolute terms, the total clean generation of the CFE (adding nuclear power, geothermal, wind, solar photovoltaic, efficient cogeneration) would fall by 3.2% between now and 2024, thanks to the reform. Of course, acknowledging this also implies denying that we are facing a reform to rescue the CFE’s hydroelectric plants. The hydro, according to the CFE itself, will go from generating 32,736 GWh in 2021 to 29,022 in 2024 (with the reform). But this factor alone does not explain the huge setback. There is more.

The other part of the equation, the CFE’s fossil generation, of course is not going to be adjusted by the equivalent of the mere 3.2% lost by its clean generation. Haven’t you been paying attention to the speech? The CFE not only aspires to cover growth in electricity demand, but also to keep a good portion of the current participation of private companies –up to the famous 54 percent.

What does this mean? With the reform, by 2024, the total generation of CFE’s coal-fired power plants will increase by 45 percent; that of CFE’s internal combustion plants at 559 percent; turbogas from CFE at 248 percent; CFE combined cycle at 121 percent. Only the CFE thermoelectric plants point downwards, according to the CFE’s own numbers. But its decline is nowhere near offsetting the gigantic growth of CFE’s fossil generation under the reform. In total we are talking about practically doubling this type of generation, going from almost 78,000 GWh in 2021 to more than 148,000 GWh in 2024 (with reform).

With everything, the participation of the clean generation of the CFE will shrink brutally with the reform: from 38% in 2021 to a mere 24% by 2024. This is 11% below what the law today requires for the system national electricity (including private) at that time.

This raises some questions. When Secretary Nahle says that they are going to meet the goal of 35% clean energy, is she betting that private companies correct the CFE’s dirty mix? When the CFE boasts today its legacy and participation in clean generation, does it realize that it is betting on a reform that really minimizes them? When “ESG” investors buy CFE green bonds, do they understand that they are financing a backwards transition to brown? When the nationalists push for government reform, do they understand that the reform will increase dependence on imported gas? Is a CFE plant that depends on imported gas, bought mostly from private companies, more patriotic than a private plant that uses the wind or solar irradiation of our own country?

For the record, these are not data from private research centers or a United States government renewable energy laboratory. They are from the CFE.


Pablo Zarate


Beyond Cantarell

Leave a Comment