Country Reports


SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY

Mexico has experimented relevant policy changes during this year lined up with its interest in building a sustainable future. The most important of these changes is the Energy Reform which was approved by the Congress in December 2013 and whose legal framework was promulgated on 11 August 2014. These new laws have fully opened the power sector to a free electricity market by letting private companies participate in the generation, transmission and distribution stages, making the energy industry more competitive, efficient and inclusive.

The Energy Reform also emphasizes a major inclusion of renewable energies in the electricity generation. Prove of this is the recently published Law of Geothermal Energy, and the Law of Electrical Industry which replaces the old Law of the Public Service of Electrical Energy and lays the foundations for a more sustainable industry through the acquisition of Clean Energy Certificates.

Therefore, the country has been building the accurate environment for a complete sustainable energy transition in which clean technologies like those of ocean energy will be crucial for achieving such an ambitious goal.


NATIONAL STRATEGY
Although Mexico has not a specific national strategy for developing ocean energy, it has several dispositions for developing renewable energies as part of a green energy policy integrated by the National Strategy of Energy 2013- 2027, which is a legal instrument that sets out the challenges for the energy sector and establishes the further actions to address them; the National Strategy for Energy Transition and Sustainable Use of Energy 2013, which is the mechanism that encourages and promotes the use of non-fossil energy sources; the Use of Renewable Energies Special Programme 2014-2018 and the Climate Change Special Programme 2014-2018. 

The 10th Strategic Topic of the first governmental mechanisms mentioned before stresses the need of diversifying the energetic matrix with the purpose of reaching the 35% of the total electrical generation by 2024 with clean energy sources; a national goal that has been established in the Law of the Use of Renewable Energies and Energy Transition Funding since its promulgation in 2008 by determining a maximum participation of fossil fuels of the 65% and reinforced in the 3rd transitional article of the General Law of Climate Change promulgated in 2012.

Likewise, the other documents set out the targets, guidelines and actions to boost and optimize the Mexican energy sector by disseminating the advantages of clean energy sources and encouraging public and private projects with the objective of developing a clean technology, in order to harness these resources and contribute to the Nation’s sustainable development.


REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
There is not a specific regulation for ocean energy currently in Mexico. However, there is a law applicable to all renewable energies, the Law of Energy Transition. This law regulates the renewable energies and clean technologies harnessing to generate electricity with private purposes. Likewise, it establishes the national strategy for energy transition funding. 


MARKET INCENTIVES
The new regulation that was promulgated on 11 August 2014 as a result of the Energy Reform has set up a new incentive called Clean Energy Certificates (CELs).

These certificates will be granted by the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) and will be given to those producers that generate electricity from clean energy sources. The owners of the certificates will be able to negotiate and commercialize them as a commodity in order to potentiate its benefits. Since this is a new initiative, the operation rules have not been established, however this regulation is expected to be promulgated during the first three months of next year.

The Clean Energy Certificates were lay down by the Mexican Government as a mechanism of control and promotion of the renewables industry growth. Therefore, ocean energy developers will be suitable candidates to receive CELs because of the great potential of the Mexican territory that can be harnessed and the particular advantages of this resource.


PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMMES
There are three major funding sources in Mexico created to support and promote the development of renewable energies and energy efficiency projects carried on by higher education institutions, research centres and private companies with technological basis in order to encourage interesting synergies between the academy and the industry for the Nation’s development and economic growth. 

 

Energy Sustainability Fund (Fondo Sectorial Conacyt- Secretaría de Energía-Sustentabilidad Energética) 
Authority: Secretariat of Energy (SENER) and National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT)
Programme: There are several programmes with different purposes derived from this fund. The most significant are:

  • Institutional Strengthening for Energy Sustainability.
  • Mexican Innovation Centre in Ocean Energy (CEMIE Océano).

This fund was created to solve the main problem areas of the energy sector and to boost the scientific research as well as the technological development of energy sustainability. Therefore, it offers public mechanisms to encourage the academia and the industry to present proposals whose objectives match with the purpose of the fund. In this sense, in September 2014, the CONACYT and SENER made a call to research centres, higher education institutions and private companies interested in developing ocean energy technologies to integrate a consortium and form the Mexican Innovation Centre in Ocean Energy (CEMIE Oceano).

 

Fund: Energy Transition and its Sustainable Use Fund (Fondo para la Transición Energética y el
Aprovechamiento Sustentable de la Energía FOTEASE)

Authority: Secretariat of Energy (SENER)
Program: There are not public calls to present proposals. The technical committee of the fund is the one who decides how to distribute the financial resources. This fund was created because of the 27th article of the Law of the Use of Renewable Energies and Energy Transition Funding with the purpose of financing integral projects that impact the energy sector and promote continuous income to renew the financial resources established for the fund. The recent Law of Energy Transition also includes the usage of the different energy sector funds to support and promote the development of clean energies. 

 

Permitting and Licensing Process for ocean energy projects 
To complement the regulatory framework to the granting of permits for projects that harness ocean energy to generate power, in October 2015 a study started with the aim to provide the basis for the projects that are being tested can access a permit and can generate energy; the study is expected to be completed in March 2016.

 


RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

KEY R&D INSTITUTIONS AND RELEVANT R&D PROJECTS
The Mexican Innovation Centre for Ocean Energy (CEMIE Oceano) was officially launched in December 2015, and will focus on the development of technological roadmaps, and on the definition of priority topics for scientific research and ocean energy technologies within the country, as well as the training and specialization of human resources and joining the efforts from academia and industry. The resources will be granted for up to 348 million pesos, over a period of four years. Together, the Sustainable Energy Fund, institutions and participating companies will contribute with a total investment of 374 million pesos.

In the first year, the Advisory Council of CEMIE Ocean will be coordinated by the Institute of Engineering of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and will involve 50 institutions and four companies comprising the consortium.

 

MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING POLICY
Although there is not a clear Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) policy, there are legal instruments to the matters related to the sea.

The existing legal instruments are the following:

• The Mexican Constitution – it points out that individuals and private Mexican companies would be able to use or exploit these resources only through concessions given by the National Executive;
• General Law of National Assets – it regulates all the aspects of the assets that constitute the Nation’s patrimony. It designates marine assets as assets of common use and points out that the special exploitation of them requires a concession, an authorization or permission given in accordance with the conditions and requirements of every corresponding law;
• Federal Law of the Sea – this law is of federal jurisdiction and regulates the marine zones that are part of the national territory;
• Marine Sector Programme 2013-2018 – it specifies the objectives, priorities and policies consistent with the National Plan of Development referring to sea issues;
• Law of National Waters – it regulates the use, utilization or exploitation of national waters, as well as the distribution, use and preservation of its quantity and quality in order to achieve integral sustainable development of them;
• Law on the Use of Renewable Energy and Energy Transition Financing (LAERFTE) – it regulates the renewable energies and clean technologies harnessing to generate electricity with private purposes. Likewise, it stablishes the national strategy for energy transition funding;
• General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection – it refers to the preservation and restoration of the ecological balance as well as the environmental protection in the national territory and in the zones where the Nation exerts its sovereignty.

Pre-selected areas for ocean energy have not been defined. However some areas have been identified with ocean potential in the national territory. The Secretariat of Energy (SENER) provides this information though the National Inventory of Renewable Energies.

AUTHORITIES INVOLVED
According to the actual legal framework of the marine and energy sectors, the authorities that have the faculty to be involved in the licensing process are:

• Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) – is in charge of promoting the sustainable use and exploitation of the federal marine-terrestrial zone and the sea-lands. It is the governmental authority that has the faculty to give or deny the concessions for the economic utilization of these resources;
• Secretariat of Energy (SENER) – is in charge of the national energy policy;
• National Commission of the Efficient Use of Energy (CONUEE) – is in the technical authority that promotes the energy efficiency and the sustainable use of energy;
• Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) – is the electricity and hydrocarbons regulator. This governmental entity has the faculty to give or deny permissions to generate electricity;
• Federal Commission of Energy (CFE) – is the government entity that is authorized to generate, conduct, transform, distribute and supply electricity for public service along the national territory;
• National Commission of Water (CONAGUA) – establishes the payment of fees for exploiting the federal waters. Every concessioner has the obligation to pay an established amount in order to ensure its permission to take advantage of the resources;
• Secretariat of Communications and Transport (SCT) – is in charge of supplying safe, efficient and competitive systems of communications and transport.

CONSENTING PROCESS
Due to the fact that marine energy technologies have not been developed in Mexico, there is not a specific process that includes licenses, consents or permits to get permission for project deployment.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
An EIA is assessed on a case-by-case basis. The entity responsible for the decision on whether an EIA is required or not is the SEMARNAT, according to the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection.

There are three cases in Mexico in which the government, through the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), depending on the control it has on the environmental impacts and the size of the site where the project is planned to be developed, in order to authorize the resources exploitation. The cases are the following: i) preventive report; ii) EIA, particular mode; iii) EIA, regional mode.

The Preventive Report occurs when the activities or works are part of an Urban Development Plan or an Ecological Planning Program previously approved by SEMANART. The EIA particular mode or regional mode are developed when particulars want to carry out some of the activities described in the Article 28th of the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection.

It can be inferred from the Mexican Environmental Policy that every Company, Research Center or High Education Institute, who wants to deploy a device in the ocean with the purpose of generating electricity, would have to submit an EIA before deploying it in order to get permission to continue.

LEGISLATION AND REGULATION
Due to the fact that ocean energy is a renewable energy that has not been developed in Mexico, there is not a specific law to regulate it.

Although Mexico has just experimented a relevant change in its energy sector due to the new legislation approved and promulgated on August 11th, 2014, it does not include any regulation oriented to ocean energy and there are no plans, until now, to elaborate such regulation.

In case some private companies, research centers or universities want to start a project to develop one of the ocean energy technologies, they will have to look over the following legal framework:

• Article 27th of the Mexican Constitution;
• General Law of National Assets;
• Federal Law of the Sea;
• Law of Ports;
• Law on the Use of Renewable Energy and Energy Transition Financing (LAERFTE);
• Law of the Electrical Industry;
• Law of Public Service of Electrical Power (LSPEE);
• Law of National Waters;
• General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA);
• Ecological Planning Program, that corresponds to the site where the project will be developed;
• Local regulations according to the selected site.

Although these legal instruments mention the opportunity of harnessing ocean energy, as well as the actors that should intervene in the process, they do not serve as a guide to be followed by developers.

CONSULTATION
In general, consultation is a legal requirement. The Federal Law of Public Consultation establishes, regulates and protects the Mexican citizens’ right to give their opinion about a matter of national importance.

Regarding an ocean energy project, according to the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection, the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources will make public the project in the Ecological Gazette when the EIA is submitted.

The Mexican government, in compliance with the Convention No.169 about Indigenous Tribal People, has the obligation to consult Indigenous people.

The National Commission for the Development of Indigenous People is the authority responsible of the consultation process in accordance with the Implementation of Indigenous People and Communities Consultation Protocol. Indigenous opinions against any project can represent a delaying factor or a relevant interruption for the course of the project.

There are informal consultation activities implemented during the license process of other renewable energy projects.