Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy


Short and medium-term goals have been set for the generation of electricity from clean energy sources. The Energy Transition Law (LTE) (2015) establishes a minimum share of clean energy electricity generation of 25% by 2018, 30% by 2021 and 35% by 2024. This 2024 goal is the commitment of Mexico as part of the Paris Agreement. In particular, the Technological Roadmap (TRM) for ocean energy is focused on strengthening the technological capabilities required, including infrastructure, specialized human resources and technological services. It also prioritizes the actions required to reach the 2030 goals for installed capacity, as well as detailed activities, identification of stakeholders, targets and milestones in a specific timeframe. It is therefore estimated now that ocean energy could contribute 500 to 1000 MW of installed capacity by 2030.
In 2021, a constitutional energy reform was proposed by Mexico’s President with the aim of putting the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) in charge of setting terms for private generators. This reform would decrease interest in the use of renewable energies and therefore the possibility of more private investment in renewables in Mexico would be affected. This reform will be debated in Congress in 2022.


The Fund for Energy Transition and the Sustainable Use of Energy was created by the Ministry of Energy (SENER) and the National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT) to promote and support projects and initiatives which contribute to the fulfilment of the National Strategy for Energy Transition and the Sustainable Use of Energy. In 2017, CEMIE-Océano was created through this fund; the approximate budget of the CEMIE-Océano for 2021 was around 1.5 million Euros. This fund was closed in 2021 in line with national policies. Currently, there are no public funding programmes for marine energy research and development.

Consenting processes

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The OES is organised under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA) but is functionally and legally autonomous. Views, findings and publications of the OES do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or its individual member countries.