New Publication | Enticed By the Wind: A Case Study in the Social and Historical Context of Wind Energy Development in Southern Mexico

By Stephanie Friede

enticed by the windWind energy is closely related to a myriad number of pressing social, political, and economic concerns. “Mexico has already set ambitious targets for renewable energy, stipulating that green power must make up 35 percent of the country’s generation by 2026,” reported The Financial Times in late 2014. However, it was only in 2009 that the industry itself began to pick up speed. As one report explained that year, “After years of spinning wheels, renewables in Mexico are ready to forge ahead.” Former President Felipe Calderón, two years into his six-year term, positioned his own political legacy firmly alongside the future of renewable energy. While prior to 2006, the renewable energy industry was at a standstill “aside from large hydropower construction,” it was with the backing of Calderón that the industry really picked up steam. Impediments to growth included the “federal power utility” the Comisión Federal de Electricidad which translates as the Federal Electricity Commission (hereafter will be referenced by its Spanish acronym CFE) which “seemed less than interested in competition from independent power producers, such as wind farms,” as well as a “renewable energy law” that “lingered in the national assembly for more than three years…leaving the country without a comprehensive legal framework to encourage renewables investment.”

Today, wind energy technology has evolved. The Mexican wind energy sector is expanding with parks popping up across the country. While many see the growth of wind energy as the inevitable next step in a progressive approach to green economic development, it will only succeed if and when the social and the natural landscapes of new projects are considered in concert. This paper is a case study in the social and historical context of wind energy development in southern Mexico. The paper argues that wind energy on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has produced far more than mere electricity. Like other kinds of large-scale energy or infrastructure projects, the arrival of wind turbines also brings worldviews into conversation. Windenergy projects and developers identify nature as a resource for human use while many residents of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec see their windy world through quite a different lens. While difficult to pin-down, istmeños have engaged with the land in productive partnership that carries with both their history and spiritual qualities. In order to dispel current tensions and rectify mistakes made in the path forward, a critical rethinking of this kind of sustainable development is urgently needed.

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Gamesa Awarded 130 MW Mexico Turnkey Wind Farm

12/14/2015 Clean Technica 

Spanish wienergy -wind_energynd turbine manufacturer Gamesa has been awarded a contract to build a 130 MW wind farm in Mexico.

The project is being built under a turnkey arrangement — allowing it to be sold on as a completed project upon completion. Gamesa was contracted to deliver 65 of its G114-2.0 MW wind turbines to developers Mexico Power Group and First Reserve for the construction of La Bufa, set to be located in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, in Central Mexico.

Gamesa is set to deliver the turbines and commission construction within 2016, and will also provide operation and maintenance services over a long-term span of the wind farm’s operation. Upon completion of the project, the electricity generated by the wind farm will be supplied exclusively to Volkswagen’s factories in the nearby cities of Puebla and Silao.

According to Gamesa’s press release announcing the award of the contract, the company has installed over 1,700 MW in Mexico as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and another 700 MW as its own wind farm developer — with a sizable pipeline to boot. These stats place Gamesa as the number one OEM in the market, and has led to the company announcing that it will build a wind tower factory in the state of Tamaulipas in a joint venture through Windar Renovables with the Daniel Alonso Group.

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Solar leads green energy growth in Mexico

10/26/2015 The Globe and Mail

Innovation2With its long history as a petroleum producer, Mexico might not be the first place people think of when it comes to cleantech and renewables.

Yet over the past few years the country has become a magnet for companies in the sustainable energy sector, companies as interested in its solar, wind and geothermal resources as its oil and gas. And with recent changes to laws governing power generation, experts say, that interest will only increase.

“There has definitely been exponential growth in the sector,” said Luis Aguirre Torres, chief executive officer of the Mexico City-based consultancy GreenMomentum Inc. The biggest has been in solar energy, he added, which has experienced triple-digit growth rates, but the development of wind, biomass and geothermal projects are also on the increase.

Behind that growth spurt is the constitutional amendment voted on by the Mexican congress in December of 2013. While the opening it gave to private companies in the oil and gas sector has garnered the lion’s share of attention, subsequent laws have also focused on electricity generation.

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Energy Reform: will Mexico’s newest revolution boost renewables – or just fossil fuels?

6/3/15 The Guardian

For the first time since 1energy - oil pumps938, the world’s largest oil companies are preparing to invest in Mexico. The last time they were there, things ended badly: President Lázaro Cárdenas seized their assets, created state-owned oil monopoly Petróleos Mexicanos – or Pemex – and sent foreign competitors packing.

Now, 77 years later, Mexico is inviting them back. As part of its far-reaching hydrocarbon and electricity reforms, the country is reopening its largely untapped oil and natural gas reserves to foreign investors and competitors. The process will begin in earnest in mid-July with an initial auction of 14 oil exploration areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

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New Publication: Renewable Energy in Mexico’s Northern Border Region

Renewable EnergyHeavy reliance on fossil fuels is a common theme across the Mexican Northern Border States with the notable exception of Baja California (which gets over 30% of its public service electricity from the Cerro Prieto geothermal plant). Despite abundant wind, solar and bioenergy resources, Northern Mexico has yet to fully embrace the energytransition, but this could rapidly change in the next few years.

Mexico’s recent Energy Reform, which included modifications to the Constitution in December 2013 and a comprehensive package of implementing legislation on August of 2014, represents a fundamental transformation of the sector. For renewable energy, the major opportunities are related to the creation of a new electricity market and the introduction of Clean Energy Certificates. In the new market, the National Center for Electricity Control
and Dispatch (CENACE) will be fully independent of Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), thus allowing for a more transparent wholesale electricity market in which users above a set consumption threshold will be allowed to freely switch between generators. Mexico has already committed to produce 35% of its electricity from clean sources by 2024.

This publication “Renewable Energy in Mexico’s Northern Border Region” analyzes the current renewable energy situation in the north of the country, discusses potential resources that could be used for electricity generation from renewable sources, and provides policy recommendations to increase the use of renewables in the energy sector and to achieve long-term energy sustainability.

Download the publication here. 

Upcoming Event: The Future of Renewable Energy and Climate Change Policy in Mexico

environment - energy - light bulb with paddy riceWHEN: Tuesday, April 28th, 9:00am-10:30am

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Click here to RSVP.

Mexico’s recent Energy Reform marked a big change in terms of investment and opportunities in oil and gas. However, the comprehensive package of legislation was also aimed to incentivize and accelerate the change towards the production of goods and services based on renewable energies. Mexico has great potential to develop a wide range of renewable energies including solar energy, hydroelectric, geothermal, bioenergy, and wind energy.

What’s more, in March of this year, Mexico became the first developing nation to formally promise to cut its carbon emissions, a potential milestone in efforts to reach a worldwide agreement on tackling climate change. Together with the United States’ commitment to cut emissions by 26-28%, Mexico’s commitment to a 25% reduction by 2030 builds on legislation passed by the nation’s congress to reduce emissions and generate more electricity from renewable sources.

With these developments in mind, the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is delighted to host Mexico’s Under Secretary of Energy Planning and Transition, Leonardo Beltrán, who will speak on both Mexico’s energy reform process and the prospects for renewable energy and carbon gas emissions reductions. At the same time, we are proud to launch our new publication “Renewable Energy in Mexico’s Northern Border Region,” which analyzes the current renewable energy situation in the north of the country and potential opportunities to engage in a productive relationship with the private and the public sectors in the United States. Jonathan Pinzón, one of the report’s authors and the Chief Operating Officer of GreenMomentum, will present the report’s findings and discuss the current state of renewables in Mexico. Our event will also feature comments from Hector Castro Vizcarra, the Embassy’s Minister for Energy Affairs.

Speakers

Leonardo Beltrán Rodríguez
Under Secretary of Energy Planning and Transition, Mexico’s Ministry of Energy

Hector Castro Vizcarra
Representative of the Secretariat of Energy (SENER) to the Embassy of Mexico in the United States

Jonathan Pinzón
Chief Operating Officer, GreenMomentum

Moderator

Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Click here for more information.

A live webcast will be available here

Mexico: Latin America’s Renewable Energy Renaissance

2/9/2015 Power Finance & Risk

environment - energy - light bulb with paddy riceIn contrast to unpredictable renewable energy policies in the U.S. and the European Union, Mexico has emerged as a lightning rod for renewable energy investment. As renewable energy investors assess changing global opportunities, Mexico continues to offer numerous stable investment prospects. Mexico’s investment-grade credit rating provides potential investors one of the few high-grade investment environments in Latin America. Additionally, the sharp reduction in contracted large-scale renewable energy opportunities in the U.S. and Europe has catalyzed recent interest in Mexico.

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