Country Reports

 

OVERVIEW

A programme for the implementation of the Technological Roadmaps for ocean energies published in 2017 by the Ministry of Energy is being continually updated as technological developments take place and public policies are improved. In line with the programme, a theoretical assessment of wave, current, saline gradient and thermal gradient energy resources in Mexico has been elaborated by CEMIE-Océano. Extending the off-grid access to electricity is among the objectives of developing ocean energy in Mexico. Another objective concerns clean energy materials challenges (e.g. superhydrophobic, nanostructured ceramic and polymeric coatings). Progress has been made in the instrumentation of two natural laboratories, in the development of prototypes, materials and technical bases for environmental and social regulation. Joint projects have been approved to optimize resources for the use of marine bioenergy and offshore wind energy.

 

 


SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY


NATIONAL STRATEGY
Short- and medium-term goals have been set for the generation of electricity from clean energy sources. The Energy Transition Law (LTE) establishes a minimum share of clean energy in electricity generation of 25% by 2018, 30% by 2021 and 35% by 2024.

To strengthen the operation of the Mexican Energy Innovation Centres (CEMIEs), 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. In 2018, the incorporation of wind offshore and marine bioenergy to CEMIE-Océano was approved; it is now therefore estimated that Ocean Energy can contribute 500 to 1000 MW of installed capacity by 2030.
 
The main National Priority Actions for ocean energy are training and capacity building, development of the regulatory frameworks for ocean renewable energy and development of innovative technologies. The approximate budget of the CEMIE-Océano for 2008 was around €5 million.
 
 
MARKET INCENTIVES 
Mexico has introduced Clean Energy Certificates available to those companies which produce a certain amount of clean electricity or do not produce CO2 emissions, as defined in Article 3, section XXII of the Electricity Industry Law, (ocean energy section). By 2019, it will be obligatory for all the companies that generate energy to have obtained or bought these clean energy certificates to the value of at least 5.8% of the total national energy consumption. This figure is expected to increase to 7.4% by 2020, 10.9% by 2021 and 13.9% by 2022. 
 
Currently, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is preparing a carbon market. The aim is to create a national and international mechanism to benefit low carbon initiatives. However, time is needed to see how this market interacts with clean energy technologies.
 
 
PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMMES
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. The objectives of this fund are to:
  • promote, encourage and disseminate the use and application of clean energy; 
  • promote the diversification of primary sources of energy;
  • establish a standardization programme for energy efficiency;
  • promote and disseminate measures for energy efficiency, as well as for saving energy;
  • propose the necessary measures so that the population has access to reliable, timely and easily accessible information regarding the energy consumption of equipment, devices and vehicles, which operate with electricity.

This fund is intended to develop the national energy sector in energy efficiency, renewable sources, use of clean technologies and diversification of primary sources of energy through:
  1. Capacity building: develop scientific, technological and innovation capacities in academia, industry, society and government; promote the link between the stakeholders from the energy sector;
  2. Research, development and innovation: Identify and prioritize technological development opportunities and promote research to transfer this into commercial applications;
  3. Training: Promote the coordination and information acquisition for timely decision-making; assist in the training of personnel to encourage them to apply and generate knowledge, products and services of high value and; ensure that the energy sector attracts talented individuals;
  4. International agenda: Promote international collaboration in the programmes, projects and activities of the funds. 

 


RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
 

Main R&D activities conducted by CEMIE-Océano:

The Wave Group has been working on the development and laboratory testing of five wave energy converters; the installation of equipment in a Natural Laboratory in Bahía de Todos Santos is continuing; the evaluation of wave power availability in Mexican waters; a database is under construction, with in situ data and numerical model; a Blow-Jet and a floating mono-buoy WEC devices have been numerically tested; a 3D wave tank has been designed and the buildings completed, and; a series of projects “Physical Modelling in Large Infrastructure” were approved in a collaboration with institutions from Spain, Germany, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic.

The Tidal and Current Group has been carrying out numerical modelling evaluations of tidal and ocean current energy, thus identifying two regions where harvesting this type of energy is feasible: the northern Gulf of California, and the northern Mexican Caribbean. There are also seasonal maxima at other sites which could be harnessed in the Pacific (Baja California), and associated with the Campeche Bank cyclonic gyre. Measurements are needed to verify this in other regions of the country. Technical challenges have arisen since some of the most attractive sites in the Caribbean (strong, persistent and unidirectional currents) are where slopes are abrupt, or depths are large, despite its closeness to the shore. 

The Salinity Gradients Group is working on the electricity conversion by the RED technique (open and closed systems, both using Excellion membranes). The development of prototypes to obtain energy from salinity gradients is being promoted, exploring the use of new materials in the design and generation of membranes. Temporal and spatial variations of the naturally occurring salinity gradients hypersaline coastal lagoons and river mouths in Mexico are being intensively quantified.

The Ecology Group has been working on the following: a diagnosis of potential ocean power generation zones, based on the geomorphological characteristics of the coast; generation of information on the structure, composition and functioning of coastal and marine ecosystems and species, to determine the potential socio-environmental impact of the installation of new energy generating devices; inventories of flora and fauna at the potential sites of ocean power generation, and; where the sites mentioned have very important environmental assets, including fragile ecosystems such as coral reefs and endangered species (vaquita and totoaba), an evaluation of the environmental consequences of harvesting this energy is urgent. 

The Materials Group has been developing a new set of superhydrophobic and nanostructured ceramic and polymeric coatings for steel, as well as a nitriding process, which have proven to be successfully anti-corrosive. A new current energy device has been designed especially suited to the conditions of Mexican waters. The production of polymer matrix composite blades is underway and a magnetohydrodynamic energy generator prototype has been built and tested; from the evaluation of this, a larger prototype is now under construction. 

The Grid Interconnection and Energy Storage Group has worked in three main areas: I) Evaluation of theoretical and physical models of different ocean energy devices, which established the tensions required for the different ocean energy sources for its management or interconnection for a) high voltage offshore wind, b) medium voltage OTEC, tides and waves; c) low voltage salt gradient, waves; and d) micro-networks all ocean energies, including on-site storage and consumption systems for specific services such as lighting or cathodic protection;    II) Establishment of the battery storage limits for each of the above groups, some of which include the design of the marine device.

As a result of the investigations we have a technology to focus wave energy in specific points (TLR 4); an energy-independent WEC, for cathodic protection (TLR 6); an energy-independent WEC for lighting (TLR 6); an energy-independent WEC of 0.5 kW (TLR 6); an energy generator with marine algae biomass (TLR8); and development of super-hydro-phobic and super-hydrophilic coatings technology (TLR 3).

 


TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATION


PROJECTS IN THE WATER

CEMIE-Océano continues to conduct studies and to acquire and deploy oceanographic measuring equipment in order to recommend natural sites for testing wave energy devices in Ensenada, Baja California, and another to test ocean current energy devices in the Cozumel Canal, Quintana Roo.

 
A 5 kW OWC with a Wells turbine has been in operation since September 2018 in the Bay of Acapulco.
 
 

PLANNED DEPLOYMENTS 
 
CEMIE-Océano has two projects with installations planned soon:
  • Wave energy device – Sauzal Port, Baja California
  • Ocean current turbine – Cozumel Channel 

 


OTHER RELEVANT NATIONAL EVENTS

 


Advanced course by CEMIE-Océano. Ocean Surface Wave Dynamics and applications into Energy Conversion. Department of Physical Oceanography, Ocean Division, CICESE. 21-31 August, 2018

Special session organized by CEMIE-Océano. International Conference on Sustainable Energy & Environmental Protection, SEEP 2018. University of the West Scotland, Glasgow, UK
8-11 May, 2018

Several training courses for the formulation, administration and management of R+D+I projects. 

Several training courses for the creation and management of technology-based companies. 

 

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.