National Transmission Network (RNT) and the Federal Electricity Commission
In Mexico, the electricity boom occurred in 1925, going from 31 MW of nameplate capacity to 390 MW. Until then, it was generated in more than a hundred companies, with isolated plants, which meant chaos. In 1937 the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE for its acronym in Spanish) was created, a public company belonging to the Mexican state, which promoted the increase in nameplate capacity, and by 1950 it was 1400 MW.
In recent years, the installed capacity has been increasing. 10 years ago, in 2011, the diversification of electricity generation sources began. Table 1 shows the installed capacity for each of the types of CFE power stations in 2011 and 2021.
Table 1. Nameplate capacity from different types of power stations in Mexico (2011 – 2022).
|Type of power station||2011||2021|
|Thermal||45.1 %||65.30 %|
|Wind power||0.20 %||1.16%|
|Independent producers||23.3 %|
Thermal and hydroelectric power stations generate energy from fossil fuel and nuclear energy; the only renewables are geothermal and wind energy, which generate a tiny percentage of the total. There are 215 power generating plants in 2022, generating 54374 MW, of which there is only one nuclear power plant. Independent producers mostly use thermal power stations. In the 1960s – 1990s, power stations were scattered, but today they are interconnected by high-voltage transmission lines, controlled by the National Center for Electric Power Control (Cenacle). In Mexico, the infrastructure network necessary for the transmission of electrical energy is known as the National Transmission Network (RNT), which includes the National Interconnected System (80%), the Baja California Interconnected System, the Baja California Sur Interconnected System, and the Mulege Interconnected System.
Several audits have been carried out at the CFE to evaluate productivity, generation efficiency, and failures in the facilities, finding high efficiency and maintenance. However, there are obsolete plants that are inefficient and polluting, for which the Secretariat of Energy (SENER) proposed a Plan for the installation and removal of power plants (PIIRCE). However, this program (which includes the removal of old installations such as the construction of clean energy plants) has not been completed and will be delayed until 2031. In addition, the electrical system’s condition is not optimal: there are blackouts and transmission line failures. The CFE monopoly is responsible for these failures and the delay in the energy change since it prevents the private sector from investing in new projects; this delay is not due to technical or economic issues.
The ability to use renewable energy to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions is remarkable. Figure 1 shows an example of how the exponential increase in the installation of photovoltaic panels and electric production from renewable sources in total does not show a parallel trend with the decrease in CO2 emissions due to electricity production, mainly because its contribution is very low compared to the use of fossil fuels, however, the downward trend in emissions in recent years can be seen, which is expected to continue as the use of renewable energy increases.
Figure 1. CO2, photovoltaic electric generation, and total electric production from renewable sources in Mexico from 2011 to 2020.
Although renewable energy use is increasing, its generation, storage, and distribution capacity in Mexico are very limited. Mexico needs to accelerate the change and conversion of its electric power grid towards renewable energy, given its importance in reducing emissions. The private sector is essential in making this transition, taking into account the need for private investment to make up for the government’s lack of financial capacity to meet its objectives.
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Mexico Country Manager Pablo David Necoechea Porras