Geothermal Energy in Mexico: Update and Perspectives
Luis C.A. GUTIERREZ-NEGRIN, Ismael CANCHOLA-FELIX, Jose M. ROMO-JONES, J. Luis QUIJANO-LEON
[Geoconsul, GEMex Project, CeMIE-Geo, Mexico]
As of December 2019, the installed capacity in Mexico is 1005.8 MWe, with five geothermal fields in operation: Cerro Prieto, Los Azufres, Los Humeros, Las Tres Vírgenes, and Domo de San Pedro. The running or operating capacity is 947.8 MWe, as several old back-pressure power units in three of these fields are currently used only as backup for more modern and efficient condensing, flash units. Cerro Prieto is still the largest field in Mexico and the second worldwide, with 570 MWe in operation. The Cerritos Colorados field, with a potential of 75 MWe confirmed by several deep wells drilled in the eighties, is still in standby with good probabilities to be developed in the future. According to the 2015 country update report (Gutiérrez-Negrín et al., 2015), Mexico’s installed geothermal capacity decreased 1.1% in the last five years (2015-2019), but the running capacity increased 13% in the same period. The variation is largely explained because the first four units of the Cerro Prieto field, with a combined capacity of 180 MWe, were still included five years ago, but not in this current report. The electric generation produced in those fields was 5,375 GWh during 2018, representing 1.7% of the national electric output. The state utility CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) has been awarded exploration permits on 13 geothermal zones scattered in several states, and seven private companies are exploring 13 additional zones under their own exploration permits, awarded after the Geothermal Energy Law was passed in 2014. Geothermal direct uses in Mexico continued sub-utilized, with 156.1 MW of thermal power installed in hot pools and spas, but some small geothermal heat pumps were installed in 2018 as part of the CeMIE-Geo demonstration projects on direct uses. The geothermal roadmaps recently commissioned by the Energy Ministry envisions 1,670 MWe of geothermal power by 2030 from conventional, hydrothermal resources, and 3,800 MWt of direct uses applications from geothermal energy by the same year, 63% of which could proceed from cascade uses in geothermal fields. Those figures mean a growth of 70% for geothermal power and more than 24 times for direct uses in the next decade. The Mexican Center for Innovation in Geothermal Energy (CeMIE-Geo) and the UE-Mexico’s GEMex Project were the main boosters for geothermal R+D+I in the past five years.
|        Topic: Country Updates||Paper Number: 01004|