This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Mexico Country Manager Pablo David Necoechea Porras
Mexico’s sole nuclear power plant is located in Veracruz, an eastern region known as the Oil Basin and Gulf Lowlands. The Laguna Verde nuclear power plant, owned by the state company Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), began commercial operations in 1990 and has operated almost continuously since then.
Mexico has had mixed experiences when it comes to utilizing nuclear power as an energy source. Its production in Mexico had increased from 1995 until 2010 as a consequence of the country’s participation in a program that reduces the enrichment of fuel in research reactors. As a result, in the first months of 2012, nuclear power generation increased, reaching a historical maximum of 3,565,507 tons of oil equivalent in 2018.
Mexico relies on nuclear power from Laguna Verde’s two nuclear power reactors. These reactors have a current joint capacity of 1,600 MegaWatts (MW), distributed in two 820 MW units, which provide 5% of the electricity country current demand.
Today, the country does not plan on expanding nor reducing its use of nuclear power in the future. In June 2021, the general director of the state company CFE mentioned that at the moment, there is no interest in increasing the production of more nuclear energy.
The CFE’s CEO said that it is necessary to analyze the type of electricity generation Mexico needs before betting on more nuclear power because of these projects require an extended period for construction. Therefore, from a planning point of view, it will be necessary to evaluate what type of electricity generation the country urgently needs.
Historically in Mexico, electricity generation that comes from nuclear energy has been the subject of security concerns in both general public and political debate, much of which is usually derived from a lack of information and knowledge on the topic. However, Laguina Verde has safety policies and standards-aligned with the best practices.
CFE also has a continuous plan for improvement of nuclear energy in Mexico which includes: excellence in training, prevention of failures, use of standards of excellence, comprehensive risk analysis, and effective communication among the plant’s work team. Since 2014, studies have shown a drop in the unit cost of operation and maintenance of nuclear power in Mexico.
Laguna Verde’s operations contribute to mitigating CO2 emissions from the atmosphere since nuclear power generation emits relatively few greenhouse gases (GHG). Nuclear energy is now also known to be one of the best clean energy alternatives for renewable sources thanks to its efficiency.
Generating nuclear energy in the Mexico has demonstrated both environmental and economic benefits when compared to other types of energy. When compared to other power generation sources, nuclear power has a low ecological impact, using significantly fewer materials to produce the same amount of energy. The nuclear industry also is subject to international standards for waste management.
Future economic growth in Mexico is intrinsically linked to higher energy consumption. Nuclear energy can be an essential component of our energy matrix in order to meet energy demands and achieve Mexico’s climate commitments of reducing GHG emissions by 22% in 2030 and 50% in 2050.