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Mexico’s power plants burning dirty fuel

posted May 17, 2021, 4:15 AM by La Paz News   [ updated May 17, 2021, 4:16 AM ]
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has pledged to reduce Mexico’s dependence on fuel imports but is faced with highly inefficient refineries
Fuel that is so dirty that the global shipping industry banned its use last year is being burned at the highest level in Mexican power plants.
State oil company PEMEX produces quantities amounts of fuel oil unintentionally because its refineries lack the technology to extract cleaner fuels from the sludge that is leftover during the initial process of turning crude into gasoline.
Therefore, the more gasoline the country’s refineries produce, the more extra fuel oil they have to find a home for. With the global shipping industry shunning sulfurous fuel oil to curb emissions, storage tanks in Mexico are overflowing with the stuff, a byproduct of its attempt to produce more gasoline domestically.
The solution Mexico has chosen is to push more of it into electricity generation, replacing cleaner-burning natural gas.
Replacing natural gas, which it imports from the U.S., with fuel oil is certain to raise Mexico’s emissions.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has pledged to reduce Mexico’s dependence on fuel imports but is faced with highly inefficient refineries.
Historically, it’s been cheaper for Mexico to export the crude it produces to countries with more technologically complex refineries and to import refined fuels like gasoline.
Switching a power plant that uses natural gas to fire a turbine to fuel oil generates 16% more carbon dioxide, according to BloombergNEF calculations.

Presidents fossil fuel-heavy energy plan jeopardizes Mexico’s green transition and climate commitments

Experts stated that the fuel oil plan will allow the CFE to reopen or make greater use of inefficient power plants whose operation is harmful to the environment. They also said that their use could cause power prices to go up.
AMLO has said that oil will finance the transition to clean energy. Yet it seems more likely to delay it. A new refinery’s average life cycle is around 20 years and requires new infrastructure, embodying more carbon. The reality is: a refinery is proposed but at no time a big push to renewable has been made. They keep putting gas in as clean energy, which is a big trap. There is no environmental policy during this presidency. They have no idea about the issue or who will advise them.

The government lacks ideas and hasn’t justified why so much money goes into oil despite its environmental impact.

Mexico has ample opportunities to attract solar and wind energy investment, but recent legal and regulatory changes are scaring investors and derailing climate goals. Mexico’s government has worked to implement reforms that will hinder privately funded renewable energy projects. The rule changes allow the country’s state-run electricity company, the CFE, to turn away from less expensive electricity produced from solar and wind, and prioritize electricity produced by state-run facilities using fossil fuel sources. While Europe pursues net-zero targets and the U.S. and China look to promote electric cars, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has promised voters that he’ll build a multi-billion-dollar refinery to allow drivers in Mexico to buy Mexican gasoline. It looks like energy nationalism is taking precedence over other priorities including climate change and job creation.

Content credits: Bloomberg, Forbes, Business Times
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