Mexico pledges to reach 40GW of wind and solar by 2030

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Mexico has pledged to reach 40GW of deployed wind and solar power generation capacity by 2030 as part of its commitments to combat climate change.

According to a release by the US embassy in Mexico, Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and US climate envoy John Kerry announced the goal at the COP27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, late Monday. The US and Mexico, as well as Canada, are currently discussing a potential breach of the USMCA treaty due to Mexican policies seen as anti-renewables.

The country now intends to deploy over 30GW of new wind solar, geothermal and hydroelectric capacity over the next decade, said the release, in a bid to bring Mexico closer to carbon neutrality by 2050. In order to reach the pledged 40GW of wind and solar, over 25GW of new capacity would need to be brought in. The country's previous energy transition commitments include reaching a 50% sales share for electric vehicles by 2030.

However, achieving the target of tripling Mexico's current solar and wind capacity goes against the grain of the government’s policies, which have slowed down renewable deployment significantly, pushing instead for the growth of the conventional output of public utility CFE.

A study by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published in April estimated Mexico's wind and solar pipeline totaled at the time 15.3GW, with 4.8GW being in some form of construction, 3.93GW in permitting stages and 6.5GW in early works. The current energy sector policies are causing suspensions of many early works projects, however, and are even making it difficult or impossible for some finished projects to connect to the national grid.

Many developers say they are being denied access to key permits and will stay in wait and see mode until a new administration assumes power in 2024.

"Without regulation, without investment, without transmission [planning], without an independent arbiter, and pushing for a national monopoly, this is not an achievable goal," Carlos Flores, director of business development at wind turbine producer Nordex, wrote on Twitter.

In 2021, Mexico's yearly renewable additions dropped when compared to the previous year, according to the official figures. Last year, Mexico added 806MW of new solar capacity, 46% less than it did in 2020, while wind additions remained flat. 

However CFE, which in previous years has criticized renewables due to their variable nature and has bet on thermoelectric and hydroelectric expansion, has said it will incorporate at least five solar parks in Sonora state and one wind farm in the Yucatán peninsula into its long-term investment plan, opening the door for public renewables growth. The firm is already building the US$1bn Puerto Peñasco solar hub.

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