Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Energy expert says Yucatán power outages due to gas shortage not fires

The Yucatán peninsula will suffer more power outages this month and next due to an increased demand for electricity and a shortage of gas, according to an energy sector expert.

There have been two major blackouts on the peninsula recently, one on Friday and another last month.

Both were blamed on fires beneath electrical transmission lines but energy analyst and researcher Edgar Ocampo Telléz said that a lack of gas to generate power was the real reason.

“. . . It’s ridiculous [to say fire was the cause] because fires have always occurred on the Yucatán peninsula and blackouts haven’t occurred, it’s absurd,” he said.

Ocampo, an academic at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), told the newspaper El Financiero that residential and commercial growth in the peninsula’s two biggest cities – Mérida and Cancún –  place additional pressure on electricity supplies, especially in the hottest months of the year.

“Our calculations were that we would have blackouts in May but they came earlier. If we’re having blackouts in April, I don’t want to imagine May,” he said.

“In reality, the problem isn’t serious . . . [but] from my point of view, the peninsula is going to suffer periodic blackouts.”

Ocampo said that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) may be forced to resort to turn off the power as part of a “scheduled blackouts” initiative to save electricity which, he said could provide a partial solution to the problem.

He explained that there is one pipeline that sends gas to the peninsula and that it has the capacity to transport 300 million cubic feet per day. But Pemex only sends between 60 and 80 million cubic feet, Ocampo said, which is insufficient to produce enough energy to meet demand at peak times.

A total of 400 million cubic feet of gas per day is needed to generate sufficient energy when temperatures soar in May, meaning that even if the pipeline operated at full capacity, blackouts would still occur.

Mexico buys around 5 billion cubic feet of gas from the United States every day but most “stays in the center of the country,” Ocampo said, “because the demand in the center is brutal.”

With a gas shortage already causing blackouts, the energy expert said that new residential and commercial developments on the Yucatán peninsula should be curtailed.

“If the commission [the CFE] knows perfectly well that it can’t generate [enough electricity], why continue to do electricity feasibility studies?” Ocampo said.

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

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