Mexico has lagged behind Brazil in the development of renewable energy resources, but progress is being made in a number of areas. From updated legislation allowing net metering to a veritable boom in wind farms, the country is definitely moving forward despite a public policy environment that is not always favorable. Here at Mexico Business Blog we’ve touched on various renewable energy topics in recent years, from solar and wind to methane recovery, and we’ve researched liquid bio-fuels and biomass fuels as well. Along the way, we realized we haven’t heard much about marine energy development in Mexico, despite the country’s nearly 5,800 miles of coastline. So we decided to take a dip into the murky waters of publicly available information, and here’s what we found:
Mexico has not made large strides in marine energy generation, despite its lengthy coasts on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Research apparently is underway, however, and the country may be close to launching its first wave energy generation project. The Federal Energy Commission (CFE) actually has considered the potential of marine energy for Mexico since 1974, when it undertook its first feasibility study of the exploitation of wave energy for the country. The topic received relatively little attention as other forms of renewable energy were given higher priority. In 2008, the CFE announced a plan to build a pilot project to generate electricity using wave energy at a site near Rosarito, in Baja California, approximately 30 miles south of San Diego, California. The planned installation was intended to utilize Oscillating Water Column (OWC) technology provided by Oceanlinx of Australia for generation capacity of 750 KW. Despite announcing the project, the CFE did not move forward with implementation, opting to continue evaluating alternative systems. In May 2012, the CFE issued a new tender for a wave energy plant at the same site. The contract was awarded to a consortium of Mexican companies and projected to begin construction in July 2012, although the technology to be used has not been revealed.
Despite a burgeoning wind energy industry, Mexico has not heretofore implemented offshore wind power infrastructure. Local researchers, however, are pursuing other forms of marine power generation. In addition to developing homegrown Wave Energy Conversion (WEC) technology, scientists at the National Autonomous University (UNAM)’s Institute of Marine Science and Limnology are working to develop a wave powered water pump to distribute seawater to lagoons without the use of electricity. UNAM’s IMPULSA project for scientific innovation is currently developing two additional marine energy projects, one involving use of heat from underwater hydrothermal vents to create steam for electricity generation, and the other to generate electricity from marine currents via hydroelectric generators.
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