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Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

"Alternative energy" means we are talking about renewable types of energy

by Terry Sovil 2019

June 15, 2019

When we talk about "alternative energy" we are talking about renewable types of energy. Generally we are talking about solar energy, wind energy, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal. Renewable energy is from renewable resources which are naturally replenished such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Mexico is doing quite well in this area and sets a good example for other nations.

Solar energy - This is radiant light and heat from the sun. These are captured using current and evolving technologies.

Wind energy - The windmills of old used the wind to grind grain or pump water. Using generators and turbines this mechanical power can be converted into electricity

Biomass energy - Plant material, animal waste, wood and other organic matter. Burning biomass does create carbon emissions, but it has been labeled as a renewable energy source by the European Union. It is used mainly for the generation of electricity.

Hydropower energy - Simply, water power is power created from falling or fast moving water which can be harnessed for various purposes.

Geothermal energy - This is power from shallow ground to hot water and hot rock found a few miles deep and generated by geothermal energy. This includes dry steam power and flash steam power.

Alternative Energy Illustration
Alternative Energy Illustration

What does Mexico have now?

  • Mexico is 9th in the world for reserves of crude oil.
  • Mexico is 4th in natural gas reserves in the Americas.
  • Mexico is highly rich in all of the primary renewable energy sources measured in MW or Megawatts. One megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts which is 1,000,000 watts. E.G. a typical coal plant is about 600 MW in size. Gigawatts measures large power plants or many plants.
    • Solar - Solar install costs are falling. It is estimated that the 2012 climate law will lead to 6 GW of solar capacity in Mexico by 2020.
    • Wind - Energy potential is very high in five main zones including Oaxaca and Mexico's ideal location in the "Solar Belt".
    • Biomass - This has the highest potential and the highest amount of research during the last 35 years (1982-2017).
    • Hydropower - With 11,603 MW it is the highest installed capacity within Mexico.
    • Geothermal - With 958 MW it puts Mexico at #4 worldwide for this type of energy.

At the end of 2018 Mexico's oil and gas industries will be totally open to private investments from both domestic and foreign companies. That includes oil exploration to opening gas stations. In order to meet Mexico's requirements in CECs, clean energy certificates, they developed a system of auctions for energy and capacity. These auctions offer long term contracts for investors, both foreign and domestic, for 15 years in energy and capacity and 20 years for CEC's.

It is exciting to note that for the first time in history producing renewable energies is lower than the cost of fossil fuels! Electricity generated from renewables went up 18.8% in 2016 (83.2 TWh to 98.9 TWh) and 87.1 TWh to 97.8 TWh in 2017. TWh is terawatt hours. Researchers found that the photovoltaic energy auctions in 2017 showed the standard cost of energy can be brought down to $30 US$ per MWh from 2018 in Dubai, Mexico, Chili, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. Wind energy onshore saw similar costs reaching $30 MWh in Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico and Morocco.

Hanno Schoklitsch, Chief Executive Officer of Kaiserwetter, said: "We are in a scenario in which renewable energy is already less expensive than conventional energy. From now on, the digital platforms that use the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Data will be the next key factor to achieve the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and attract more investors.

Solar power was the winner in Mexico's latest energy auctions. Solar won 1.3 gigawatts for 55% of the projects and 58.3% of the clean energy certificates awarded. Solar came in with a new world record average price of $20.57 per MWh. That's nearly $10 per MWh lower than the price from a 120 MWh solar farm in Chili that year that had a cost of $29.10 per MWh.

Alternative Energy Illustration #2
An Alternative Energy Illustration with wind and sun

The company ENEL won solar and wind farm bids for the latest projects. "We are thrilled about yet another great success in Mexico, a core market for us, and we are proud to confirm our leadership in the country's renewables arena," said Antonio Cammisecra, head of Enel Green Power. Enel is investing about $700 million for the construction of 4 wind projects that will total 593 MWh. They are also constructing a 754 MW solar farm in Coahuila and a 238 MW project in Guanajuato.

AMLO, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has announced projects for 2019. He also appointed new heads for the Ministry of Energy and CFE. The World Association of Nuclear Operators also visited Laguna Verde for a close up inspection. They concluded the plant has not experienced any events that increases incident risks. The plant is operating under normal operational conditions. The association concluded that the plant has not undergone any significate event that may increase potential incident risks, and that the plant is under normal operational conditions.

The public and private companies are making investments with positive results.

AMLO announced 4 priority projects with an investment of MX$175 billion (US$9.4 billion). Three of the projects are in the oil and gas industry. The fourth is to increase electricity production with emphasis on modernizing CFE's power plants. Starting with hydroelectric plants.

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