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Climate Action 2010-2011


SPECIAL FEATURE | CFE © Creative commons/flickr/Jeremy Burgin CFE: from environmental protection towards a low-carbon electric system Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is a Mexican state-owned electricity company created by decree in 1937. The company supplies electricity to over 33 million customers in Mexico’s industrial, commercial and residential sectors. The company is also responsible for the planning and operation of the country’s national electric grid. The ongoing challenge today is how to improve competitiveness and provide cleaner electricity more efficiently. In 1992, when Mexico signed the Rio de Janeiro Agenda 21 to implement a national sustainability model, CFE’s directorate needed a way to make the national electric system a significant contributor, producing electricity using fewer natural resources and reducing air and water pollution. The company established a principle to identify and address the environmental impacts of all significant operations and make environmental and social responsibility a key part of best management practices. CFE created a specialised entity to co-ordinate efforts and, by the end of 2008, all power plants had their ISO 14000 certificate, demonstrating that comprehensive environmental impact assessments had been carried out at each plant to the guidelines provided by the ISO, the international environmental standards body. CFE is participating in the self-regulatory framework established by the Federal Government Agency for | 168 | Environmental Protection (SEMARNAT). At present 460 of our facilities have been certified as ‘Clean Industries’. Action plans and commitment At present, the company’s philosophy and goals are focused on a greener future, establishing four lines of action in pursuit of sustainability: • To reduce the environmental and social impacts of major projects and activities; • To maximise the efficiency in generation, transmission and distribution of electricity; • To increase the share of renewable energy sources in the electric matrix; • To promote and sponsor energy-saving programmes. In the political arena, Mexico’s energy sector has undergone important changes. In 1992, the basic regulatory body for the electric sector was modified in such a way as to permit for the first time a partial participation of private investors in the generation field. The figures for self-producer, self-consumer, cogeneration and independent producers were set by law. These changes contributed to the modernisation of the national electric system and a new approach towards environmental protection. This greater environmental

SPECIAL FEATURE | CFE awareness led to the mandatory environmental screenings of all energy installations. Since then, no plants have been installed without full compliance of the environmental regulations in selecting plant location, water quality and efficient use, soil contamination or air pollution control. Beyond the mandatory environmental regulations, CFE contributes to reforestation and other forms of environmental reclamation. By the time Mexico and most of the world’s governments signed the Kyoto Protocol, a new challenge had emerged for energy suppliers: the heavy responsibility of the energy sector for global warming. As part of its commitment to prevent an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, CFE, as a major participant of the Mexican energy sector, signed an agreement to promote green energy projects in the framework of the Investment and Works Program for the National Electric System. This commitment was reflected in the Special Program for Climate Change which is a federal document containing all actions to be taken by federal administration entities to combat climate change. The most relevant line of action is to improve energy efficiency in power generation and to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix. CFE has also designed its own internal programme to address climate change, in both mitigation and adaptation. In mitigation, the company is focused on numerous projects to reduce total GHG emissions. In the area of adaptation, vulnerability and sensitivity to climate change are incorporated as key factors in the planning and designing of the national electric system. Mexico is deeply involved in actions to combat climate change. To meet its goals, CFE has created two programmes for action planning; one for the short term (up to 2012) and the other long term (up to 2024). In the short-term programme the target is to increase thermal efficiency by an average of two per cent in the national electric system through the modification of the combustion systems, fuel switching and heat recovery. In this same period, green energy expansion is integrated through the construction and commissioning of a hydraulic generation plant inputting 750 megawatt (MW) to the system, as well as two geothermal plants totalling an additional 50MW. Taking advantage of Mexico’s wind potential, CFE has already installed 100MW and has three more wind farms under construction with a combined capacity of 300MW. For the first time ever, a solar concentration field with a 12MW capacity is under bidding process. Covering both the short- and long-term programmes, the most ambitious project to date is located in the State of Oaxaca in the region called La Ventosa (‘the windy area’ in Spanish), where CFE, IPP and self suppliers will be installing wind turbines with a combined capacity Figure 1: 2008 (top); 2024 (bottom) of 2,500MW. There are 400MW of capacity already in operation and the rest of them will be commissioned from now to the end of 2012. The long term plan aims to achieve an energy mix that reduces fossil fuel use, from 73 per cent down to a maximum of 60 per cent, with the most probable distribution shown in Figure 1. International co-operation Internationally, Mexico is deeply involved in actions to combat climate change. CFE, as part of the Mexican government, is actively participating in the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol. As Mexico is a Non Annex I Country under the Protocol, it is eligible to participate in the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). For CFE, CDM projects represent a huge opportunity to secure extra, non-budgetary funding for environmental actions that will contribute significantly to reducing the country’s GHG emissions. Through clean energy projects developed under the CDM, CFE will have made reductions in GHG emissions of more than 2 million tonnes of marketable CO 2 by the end of 2012 as part of a total portfolio of approximately 13 million tonnes over a 10-year period. Alberto Ramos Elorduy W. Tel: 0525557052591 Email: Vicente Aguinaco Bravo Tel: 0525554817507 Email: | 169 |