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Mexico Energy Summit

Posted on March 01, 2013

Mexico Energy Summit

The two-day strategic business summit held on March 6 and 7, focused on energy sector investments in Mexico, as well as on the development of projects and policies for the new Peña-Nieto administration, especially with respect to oil and natural gas, renewable energy, and power generation.

Within a few years, renewable energy is expected to provide 35% of all electricity generated in Mexico. This is an "inertial" or logical scenario, given the trends observed in the national energy market. This condition will have an impact equivalent to US $15 billion on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and will create approximately 150,000 jobs. The above was noted by Gerardo Pandal, Director of Project Development at Guascor de Mexico, during the "Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development" panel discussion held at the Mexico Energy Summit hosted by Business Americas in Mexico City.

The two-day strategic business summit held on March 6 and 7, focused on energy sector investments in Mexico, as well as on the development of projects and policies for the new Peña-Nieto administration, especially with respect to oil and natural gas, renewable energy, and power generation.

In his remarks on March 7, the newly-appointed General Director of IMTA, Victor Bourguett, spoke of the general issue of water disposal, drought scenarios that currently impact several watersheds throughout the country, including the Conchos River Basin, and water efficiency programs for the sector. He reported that, based on the 2030 Water Agenda, the water sector requires investments for US $20 billion in the coming years. He closed by emphasizing that the culture of planning needs to be improved, and efforts for final designs should target the development of projects that use renewable energy sources, in addition to implementing water rates that reflect technical criteria.

During her participation in the "Social Responsibility and Environmental Management" panel held on the second day of the summit, Border Environment Cooperation Commission General Manager Maria Elena Giner highlighted the importance of BECC's work and particularly what the organization has done in recent years under a major climate change initiative. She noted that at this time the Mexican border, having 17.5% of the national population, generates 21.7% of the country's greenhouse gases, a number that expected to increase to 31% by 2025 with 19.4 % of the population living in the border area by that date. Hence the importance of taking major steps to address such development in this dynamic region, she said.

During her participation, Giner recommended that private and public sectors work together in building consensus on the projects developed, identifying positive and negative perceptions of communities, using planning and dissemination of information as support tools.

The binational official said that between 2011 and 2012 the BECC, along with the North American Development Bank (NADB), has supported the development and certification of nine renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 792.2 megawatts, using an estimated US $625.40 million in NADB funding. 

Andrea Irarrazaval, Manager of Chile Clean Energy, a company that has developed an innovative technology that caught the attention of summit attendees due to its use of algae to provide for wastewater treatment while generating biomass, said that her company operates on the premise that the human right to non-pollution must be respected in a country that has high levels of air pollution in different sectors, such as mining.

On behalf of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Ana María Contreras, General Director of Air Quality Management and Pollutant Release and Transfer Registry, said that on the issue of social responsibility, partners must look beyond national or international standards. She gave several examples such as plans and projects that are moving towards a self-regulatory mechanism by which savings are realized by businesses –such as trucking companies– as a result of reduced emissions and fuel-associated costs, while improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gases.

The official said SEMARNAT finds it is essential to respect the people's right to clean air and right to information and on the issue of air quality, this is critical for communities adjacent to companies that release toxic substances or greenhouse gases.  "The demands of civil society are always important," especially with regards to air quality, said Contreras during the same panel discussion.

Dr. Pablo Marcelo Mulas, Executive Director of the World Energy Council, said that social responsibility must be shared. He illustrated this by stating that one of the three central themes for the Council is social equity. Finally, he said that after analyzing the social issues associated to the implementation of major projects, a social impact report should be prepared and reviewed by the communities benefited or impacted by each project.

During the panel discussion moderated by Victor Hugo Alcocer, Deputy Director of Hydraulics at IMTA, Giner said her organization works hard to address what the community should know about the projects under consideration and for this, she said, planning and capacity building are essential. This "promotes transparency, as occurred with the urban mobility project in Juarez," the BECC official said.




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