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.
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.
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.
Energy Sustainability Fund (Fondo Sectorial Conacyt- Secretaría de Energía-Sustentabilidad Energética)
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
Permitting and Licensing Process for ocean energy projects
KEY R&D INSTITUTIONS AND RELEVANT R&D PROJECTS
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
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;
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.
• 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;
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
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
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;
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.
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.