As of 2022, Mexico occupies the sixth position in geothermal energy, boasting a capacity of 1059 megawatts. I will showcase the Mexican government’s ambition and strategy to promote geothermal energy and list the current geothermal power plants running in the country. Highlight the obstacles facing the sector, and to underscore the hurdles that Mexico must address to enhance geothermal power, we will present the challenges.
Ambition & Strategy:
Through the national strategy for energy transition and sustainable energy use, Mexico intends to garner a 1464-megawatt capacity by 2050. In line with this thinking, in March 2023, the government announced a tender for six new geothermal sites as part of the project to expand the geothermal energy industry with $51 million in funding from the Inter-American Development Bank. Moreover, the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission announced that it is pushing for investment in geothermal energy through a 1.5 billion Mexican Peso or $75.2 million investment program.
Geothermal Power Plants:
- Cerro Prieto III, located in the State of Baja California, is owned by the Comision Federal de Electricidad (Federal Electricity Commission). In 1985, it was inaugurated with a 220-megawatt capacity, having the capability to generate 1438 gigawatt-hours of electricity each year.
- Los Azufres II, located in the State of Michoacan, is owned by the Federal Electricity Commission. In 1982, it was commissioned with a 190-megawatt capacity, enabling the production of 788 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually.
- Los Humeros III, located in the State of Puebla, is owned by the Federal Electricity Commission. The government inaugurated it in November 2017, boasting a 25-megawatt capacity and the ability to generate 200 gigawatt hours of electricity each year.
- San Pedro Lagunillas, located in the State of Nayarit, was developed by Geotermica para el Desarrollo S.A.P.I de and Mitsubishi Power and owned by Geotermica para el Desarrollo S.A.P.I de. It was established in 2015 with a capacity of 75.5 megawatts.
- Las Tres Virgenes, located in the State of Baja California Sur, is owned by the Federal Electricity Commission. It began commercial operations in 2001 with a 110-megawatt capacity.
- Comision Federal de Electricidad (Federal Electricity Commission), based in Mexico City, is a state-owned electric utility firm that provides electricity to consumers through energy sources such as geothermal and solar. By operating four out of the five currently operational geothermal power plants, it clearly holds a dominant position within the geothermal energy sector.
- The biggest obstacle to scaling geothermal energy is the high upfront capital cost, as exploration, drilling, and construction can cost about $1870 per kilowatt to $5050 per kilowatt.
- The second issue is the lack of policy support for geothermal energy projects, which is one of the reasons for slow growth across this energy sector. For instance, it was 823 Megawatts in 2013 compared to 1059 Megawatts in 2022.
- The third issue pertains to the state’s dominance in the geothermal energy market, as the government has yet to facilitate access for private entities to participate. It has negatively affected the growth of the sector in the past decade.
I have talked about the Mexican government’s ambition and strategy to promote geothermal power as one of the clean energy sources. Secondly, five geothermal power plants are listed to showcase their role in providing electricity. I have also mentioned the top operator in the geothermal energy sector and listed three challenges hindering growth in the geothermal energy sector. In conclusion, Mexico possesses untapped geothermal potential, necessitating comprehensive policy support for its large-scale deployment.