Mexico lawmaker calls for nuclear plant expansion study

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Mexico's energy ministry (Sener) must produce a study on the impact of expanding the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in Veracruz state or of building other plants, according to senator Héctor Yunes.

The expansion plan, that forms part of Sener's 2013-17 energy strategy approved by the senate last year, must be preceded by a study detailing the health and socio-economic impact of such works, the senator for Veracruz state said, according to a senate press release.

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Nuclear generation is the most cost effective way to increase the share of renewables, according to the energy strategy.

"It's essential to increase nuclear generation in the power matrix as it is a viable and proven alternative," the plan says, adding that a large part of nuclear development will be a campaign to educate the public about the safety of the technology.

The plan also calls for a national database of renewable energy that would map potential for solar and wind generation throughout the country.

Media have also reported recently that state utility CFE plans to build two more nuclear power stations in Veracruz, he said. The utility has not outlined the potential generation capacity of any new plants, or the construction costs.

A 2010 study by Mexico's engineering academy estimated that a new nuclear power plant would cost around US$4.5bn.

The CFE operates Laguna Verde, which generates 1.6GW/y, equivalent to 5% of the country's electricity demand.

Nuclear power is an important energy source, currently generating 16% of the world's energy at 435 power plants, Yunes said.

"Mexico's experience operating Laguna Verde would allow a nuclear program that includes the construction of two more power stations to be successfully pursued," said Yunes, who is a member of the pro-government PRI party.

While Mexico's energy reforms will allow the private sector to participate in electricity generation, nuclear power will remain state controlled, BNamericas reported Alejandro Peraza, the energy regulatory commission's (CRE) director general of renewable power, as saying in May.