EU, Canada step in as outcry mounts against Mexico’s block to renewables

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
Image credit: Alejandro Barba / Unsplash

The controversy over Mexico’s recent clampdown on the green energy industry has flared anew in the past few days, with major EU economies and Canada acting to voice their concerns.

The government of president Andrés Manuel López Obrador stepped up this week its defence of restrictions for renewable projects passed earlier in May, which have sparked legal threats from green energy associations and the broader business community.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

The media offensive was spearheaded by Energy Minister Rocío Nahle, who pushed the official line that the renewable curbs – including the freezing of grid tests and a potential ban on new licensing in congested zones – are needed to underpin grid stability as Mexico fights COVID-19.

Mexico has, Nahle said on social media, the duty to guarantee power supply at a time of crashing demand and growing incorporation of renewable electricity. The minister contrasted the “variability” of green electricity with the full-time nature of fossil fuel plants.

“Combined cycle power plants run 24 hours a day through gas and water steam,” Nahle said. “This technique maintains system continuity and provides support to the national electricity system when intermittent sources (renewables) are not producing.”

EU, Canada act after months of mounting unease

Across the divide, the industry critics of López Obrador’s renewable clampdown were recently joined by some of Europe’s largest economies.

In a joint letter dated 15 May, ambassadors from Germany, France, Spain, Italy and 15 other EU member states asked to meet minister Nahle to discuss their concerns over the renewable restrictions, citing complaints they had received from European firms.

The EU countries said they understand that the COVID-19 crisis creates a need for “unprecedented measures” but added that the particular blocking of green energy projects threatens – as estimated by Mexican sector players – a US$6.4 billion of investment in 44 ventures.

Canada struck a similar tone in a separate missive to Nahle, sent on the same date. The measures put at risk the US$450 million of green energy investment Canadian firms such as Canadian Solar have pledged in the country, ambassador Graeme C. Clark said as he requested a phone call with the minister.  

Both the EU and Canada’s letters evidenced that worries over López Obrador’s renewable policies go back further than this year’s controversy, with EU countries citing the cancellation of green energy auctions and the attempt to open green energy credits to legacy hydro and nuclear plants.

“This [new] deal adds to the other measures and policy changes that are contrary to renewable investment in the country,” said Canada’s missive. “Over the past few months, Canadian businesses with investment and projects in the country have faced various challenges.”

Industry promises to ‘exhaust’ legal options

Whether Mexico will respond to either request for dialogue remains unknown, but for now the government faces the prospect of a more heated exchange with local industry players.

In a new statement, a host of trade bodies that form part of Mexican business council the CCE said they will “exhaust” legal options to combat López Obrador’s new measures, which they say constitute a “flagrant breach” of Mexico’s constitution and laws.

CFE – the state-run utility giant who wants to revise renewable PPAs – also took to social media in recent days to refute the talk of legally unsound changes. “It’s important to ensure the state’s role administering renewables, regardless of the involvement of local and foreign private operators,” CFE said.

PV Tech has set up a dedicated tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at [email protected] or [email protected].

Read Next

Premium
July 12, 2024
Even though the solar PV market in Ecuador is currently non-existent, with only a few projects operational and mostly in the distributed generation market, it is about to take off, says José Luis García Pérez, Latin America’s CEO at Spanish developer Zelestra, formerly known as Solarpack.
June 27, 2024
Enel Colombia, the Colombian subsidiary of Italian renewable energy group Enel Green Power, has reached commercial operations of 240MW of solar PV capacity.
June 24, 2024
Renewable energy infrastructure investor Actis has launched a new independent power producer (IPP) company in Peru, seeking to develop 12GW of energy projects.
June 17, 2024
Colombian public utility Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) has reached commercial operation at its 83MW solar PV plant.
June 11, 2024
Argentinian renewables developer Genneia has invested US$250 million to build two solar plants in Argentina with a combined capacity of 273MW.
June 6, 2024
Investment in solar PV is expected to surpass all other generation technologies combined with over US$500 billion, according to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
July 31, 2024
1:00 PM (BST) / 2:00PM (CEST)
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia
Solar Media Events
October 8, 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA