What if Bartlett’s priorities were wrong?

“Why not invest in plots? I already told you, we are more interested in doing it in the dams that we have, in the agricultural dams that we are planning to convert into hydroelectric plants; we have nuclear power and we have other possibilities. We have geothermal, for example, geothermal is important and we can develop it. “

That was what Manuel Bartlett told the deputies of the United Energy and Infrastructure Commissions just a year ago. Without much context, it sounds like there are big hydroelectric plans. But a few months later, the Electricity Sector Development Program 2020-2034 of the Ministry of Energy gave a little more detail.

Between 2021 and 2024, the CFE with record budgets plans to add 196 megawatts (MWs) of installed hydroelectric capacity, 0 MW of geothermal and 0 MW of nuclear. 95% of your new plants would be fossils, a clear throwback.

Looking ahead, it gets worse. The new 258 MW of the hydro repowering program (throughout the six-year term, in the terms announced by the president) represent 1.3% of the need for clean capacity additions between now and 2030, of about 19,000 MW. Even adding the strategic projects to enter into operation from 2025 to 2031, the results would continue to be scandalously insufficient. In total, Prodesen considers just under 3,200 MW of new clean capacity in the next six-year term.

If Mexico depended solely on the CFE for the development of new clean energies, by the end of the decade it would have met only 17.9% of what it requires to meet its environmental commitments. Counting as viable the CFE solar project in Sonora that was announced untimely a few months ago – despite the fact that it strangely belittles Bartlett’s own priorities and runs over Secretary Nahle’s need for order and planning (which just a few months before had not considered it in its planning document), in addition to generating enormous technical and commercial challenges due to its scale and location – the number rises marginally. We would lack neither more nor less than 76 percent.

Of course, none of these calculations considers the impact that the CFE would have if it finally managed to dispatch its non-dispatchable, as proposed by the reform. According to the prestigious US government NREL, changing the dispatch order to prioritize CFE plants could increase the carbon emissions of the Mexican electricity sector by up to 65%, making it virtually impossible for Mexico to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.

Even so, it is evident that the CFE is not even enough to start the transition. Neither in resources nor in vision. As Bartlett said in the same appearance, “we have our own vision of the clean energy drive and we are paying attention. One of the constant themes of the president is the reinforcement, the repontecialization of all the hydraulic companies in the country. Clean energy, right? ” The vision itself is clear. The reasonable doubt is whether it will be enough to absolutely direct Mexico’s solution to what is now considered humanity’s greatest challenge. And, even more important, if it will be correct.

A year ago, the CFE director said: “We have not sought to invest in plants [¿limpias? ¿solares?] because we have priorities. The priorities are to generate more electricity. ” Which brings us to another reasonable doubt. What if Bartlett’s priorities were wrong? If the reform is approved, there will not be much to do. CFE “will be autonomous in the exercise of its functions and in its administration, and will be in charge of executing the country’s Energy Transition.”

Pablo Zarate


Beyond Cantarell


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