Mexico Backs Off From Renewables, Expands Coal Use

Last week’s storm in Texas didn’t just affect the state, it also had an impact on the state’s neighbor to the south. Over five million Mexican citizens were without power last week due to natural gas shortages that interrupted Mexico’s providing electricity. From NBCDFW:

“Mexico’s government-owned utility, the Federal Electricity Commission, said its operations were left short as the winter storm in Texas froze natural gas pipelines. It said some private power plants also began shutting down Sunday night. Private plants supply about 80% of power in northern Mexico.

Mexico uses gas to generate about 60% of its power, compared to about 40% in the United States. Mexico built pipelines to take advantage of cheap natural gas from the U.S., often obtained by fracking in Texas, but Mexico does not allow fracking in its own territory.”

Texas’ Governor, Gregg Abbott, ordered natural gas restrictions that lead to Mexico’s shortages. This, in turn, resulted in frictions between the U.S. and Mexico. But Texas citizens, Americans in general, need to come first in times of crisis. Consequently, the move forced Mexico’s President, Andrés Obrador (a.k.a. AMLO), to dump renewable energy for coal. From 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 betting big on fossil fuels, he is also curtailing clean energy.

The populist president has promoted a vision of energy sovereignty, in which state-run bodies – the oil company Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) – pump petroleum and generate electricity. Private players, which have heavily invested in clean energy, are relegated to a secondary role in López Obrador’s vision – while emissions and climate commitments are an afterthought.

“Instead of thinking of a transition from coal and fossil fuels, he’s thinking of using more coal and petroleum,” said Adrián Fernández Bremauntz, director of Iniciativa Climática de México, an environmental organisation.”

And just like that, Mexico attained a semblance of energy independence.