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Page added on April 8, 2012

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Mexico Scraps Plans to Build 10 Nuclear Power Plants in Favor of Using Gas


Mexico, one of three Latin American nations that uses nuclear power, is abandoning plans to build as many as 10 new reactors and will focus on natural gas-fired electricity plants after boosting discoveries of the fuel.

The country, which found evidence of trillions of cubic feet of gas in the past year, is “changing all its decisions, amid the very abundant existence of natural-gas deposits,” Energy Minister Jordy Herrera said in a Nov. 1 interview. Mexico will seek private investment of about $10 billion during five years to expand its natural gas pipeline network, he said.

Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest economy, is boosting estimated gas reserves after Petroleos Mexicanos discovered new deposits in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and shale gas in the border state of Coahuila. The country was considering nuclear power as part of plans to boost capacity by almost three-quarters to 86 gigawatts within 15 years, from about 50 gigawatts, and now prefers gas for cost reasons, he said.

“This is a very good decision by the Mexican government,” said James Williams, an economist at WTRG Economics, an energy research firm in London, Arkansas. With a power generation project based on gas “you can build multiple plants at a much lower cost and much faster pace than a nuclear facility.”

Nations around the world are also reconsidering plans for increasing their reliance on nuclear power after the March 11 earthquake in Japan that wrecked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, causing a loss of cooling, the meltdown of three reactors and the worst atomic disaster since the leak at Chernobyl in 1986.
Strategic Plans

Mexico’s energy ministry plans to update the nation’s long- term strategic plan to reflect the increased importance of gas, Herrera said, with the report due in the first quarter of 2012.

“Until we find a model to make renewable energy more profitable, gas is more convenient,” Herrera, who was appointed energy minister on Sept. 9, said from Mexico City.

Pemex, as the state-owned oil producer is known, estimates there may be as much as 300 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Coahuila region, the head of exploration and production, Carlos Morales, said in an Oct. 27 presentation.

State-owned Comision Federal de Electricidad, Latin America’s largest utility by revenue, plans to invest 66.3 billion pesos ($4.9 billion) in 2011 and 90.4 billion pesos in 2012, mainly in plant generation, as it seeks to keep pace with electricity demand, according to the company’s website.
Nuclear Plants

Mexico considered a plan to build as many as 10 nuclear power plants by 2028, according to a CFE presentation. The state company was weighing four investment plans to increase long-term capacity, the most ambitious nuclear plan included building 10 nuclear plants, according to the May 12, 2010 presentation.

The power company, also known as CFE, is investing in the construction of six new plants using fossil fuels to improve capacity and efficiency and is reconfiguring other facilities to replace the use of other fuels with natural gas.

Herrera’s comments are a departure from former Energy Minister Georgina Kessel, who said nuclear energy would help achieve President Felipe Calderon’s pledge to generate at least 35 percent of the country’s energy from so-called clean sources.

“I’m convinced that in the medium- and long-term, increasing nuclear capacity is the path that should be followed,” Kessel said in an interview last year.

“The country has very high potential to develop renewable energy,” Herrera said. “But the renewable energy world is hurt by the cheap gas prices. And the government has to consider how much it can spend to promote alternative energy sources.”
Shale Gas Production

U.S. shale gas production increased by an average of 48 percent a year from 2006 to 2010, according to the Energy Department in Washington. Output will rise almost threefold from 2009 to 2035, the department predicted in its Annual Energy Outlook release on April 26.

Gas futures, which traded as high as $13.69 per million British thermal units in July 2008, dropped to as low as $3.48 last month. While gas produces roughly half the carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of coal, nuclear reactors don’t release carbon dioxide into the air. activity.”

Natural gas for December delivery rose 4 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $3.790 per million British thermal units at 10:23 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


8 Comments on "Mexico Scraps Plans to Build 10 Nuclear Power Plants in Favor of Using Gas"

  1. Arthur on Sun, 8th Apr 2012 2:11 pm 

    They should instead implement a plan like this:

    They have more than enough sunny places.

  2. BillT on Sun, 8th Apr 2012 3:18 pm 

    Arthur, That system is not even designed yet, and is another dream by the capitalist economy to make a profit. The idea is talking trillions of dollars in a world of debt. Not going to happen there or in Mexico. About 20 years too late starting. If Mexico invests the $100 billion that 10 nuke plants would cost, they could have a very efficient network of natural gas plants for the next few decades, without the hassle of nuke waste, etc.

  3. Arthur on Sun, 8th Apr 2012 3:28 pm 

    Bill, debts can be cancelled/softened, usually by printing more money. Not very good for the middle class, but the future of the middle class is not rosy anyway. I do not know what is going to happen to capitalism. Maybe it is going to be a mixture of capitalism for the better situated and socialism for the bottom, like spcial money in return for services provided to the community. Regardless of which system is going to prevail (if any system at all), there will be manpower available for constructing these projects. We have no choice.

    From the bottom of the wiki article:

    “The Ouarzazate solar power plant in Morocco, with an initial capacity of 160 MW, should start construction in 2012.[53][54]

    The TuNur solar power plant in Tunisia is planned to have 2 GW of capacity. Construction is planned to begin in 2014, and export power to Italy by 2016”

    So something is happening indeed. Agreed, not nearly enough.

  4. Kenz300 on Sun, 8th Apr 2012 6:49 pm 

    Combined wind, solar and natural gas offer many advantages. Wind and solar need to be part of any new energy mix.

  5. DC on Sun, 8th Apr 2012 8:32 pm 

    Mexico is abandoning Nuclear because it is too expensive, too dangerous and too risky. Not because the found some Nat-gas somewhere. Mexico is on the verge of being a failed state. Not a good candidate for 10 nuke plants at over 100billion USD. Where does Mexico get most of its revenue from, the export of fossil-fuels, which are rapidly depleteing. They have neither the money or the skills to staff and maintain 10 nukes, and they know it. Given the breathtaking corruption and violence in Mexican society, only amplfies the risk even greater.

    Think about this for 30 seconds, even some resort cities in mexico dump sewage into the ocean right past all the tourists on the beach! They cant even be bothered to bury the pipe! How will such a country handle a 100,000 year waste management problem? Answer, they wont and they cant.

  6. SOS on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 12:17 am 

    The facts about nuclear are true. The facts about the natural gas are true too, which disproves your statemet Mexico’s fossil-fuels are rapidly depleating. Its just the opposite. Its the result of new drilling technologies.

    Our oil industry has now unlocked vast reserves of oil and gas that are going to change the energy picture for several generations. Reasonably priced, abundant energy is going to help us all with our personal wealth too.

  7. BillT on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 12:23 am 

    Arthur…where does the metals and minerals come from to make those solar farms, etc? Mining, and refining. ALL require huge quantities of oil powered machines which in turn require more oil powered machines, which require… Do you see the problem? Today’s energy system is running on legacy equipment left over from cheap oil. It will not be replaced when it wears out, by any ‘alternate’ energy source.

    Nor will we fall back on coal and steam for the same reason. It cannot be mined by humans alone. You have to move mountains to get at today’s poor grade coal. We have wasted ourselves into the proverbial corner and there is nowhere to go.

  8. Arthur on Mon, 9th Apr 2012 12:48 am 

    The metal can come from all these superflous cars that will be rotten down the roadside

    I know, we need to hurry up and use the remaining trillion barrels of oil as well as coals and gas to set up a new energy base as the highest priority: wind, solar (thermal and photovoltaic), geothermal, etc., etc. The aim should be to try to keep the electrical grid going, which is maybe 15% of the total energy mix. Obviously that electricity will need to be rationed.

    The future will be: sitting in an unheated home, wearing ‘electrical underwear’ that keeps you warm at 50 Watt (just like an electric blanket), playing with your iPad and pull a few potatoes from your backyard. Maybe in 10 years time we can exchange crisis food recipes via email!

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