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MEXICO - Green Economy

Israel Hurtado

President, Mexican Hydrogen Association

Bio

Israel Hurtado has been head of the Mexican Hydrogen Association since late 2020 and is a seasoned veteran of the energy industry, having worked at Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Energy Ministry (Sener), and the Comisión Reguladora de Energía (CRE), where he was a commissioner from 2006-2012. From 2014-2020, he was the first CEO of the Mexican Solar Energy Association (Asolmex). Prior to his work in the energy industry, Hurtado was a state legislator in Nuevo León from 1994-1997, a federal congressman from 1997-2000 and the spokesperson for the Mexican Communications and Transportation Ministry from 2001-2004. Hurtado holds an MA in international law from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, a diploma in finances from the Tecnológico de Monterrey and a BA in law from UANL.

"Mexico will start producing green hydrogen by the end of 2022, but on a small scale."
With the growing interest in decarbonization around the world, the country has the potential to become a leading hydrogen producer globally with the support of the Mexican Hydrogen Association.
How much potential does Mexico have in terms of becoming a leading hydrogen producer?

Different international organizations have concluded that Mexico has the potential to become one of the world’s leading hydrogen producers. In fact, Mexico might have up to 64% lower green hydrogen production costs than other countries for different reasons. One is its ability to generate renewable energy. It is part of the solar belt, which is made up of the countries with the most solar radiation on the planet. Coahuila, Tamaulipas, is also home to the world’s largest solar power facility. In addition, Mexico has a great deal of wind potential, particularly in Oaxaca, as well as an enormous promise in geothermal energy. Renewable energy is a fundamental input in the production of hydrogen. Our geographical location is another important factor; practically the entire southern part of the country is the central part of the continent. We are part of North America, but close to and closely linked to Central America and South America. Then, there is the issue of FTAs. We have a Pemex with the US and Canada. The bloc has high levels of energy consumption, and it does not have all the renewable potential that Mexico has. Therefore, they can buy or import hydrogen from Mexico.

What steps are being taken to reduce the obstacles this energy faces?

Green hydrogen is already being produced in much of the world, and the electrolyzers, which are the equipment that produces green hydrogen through electrolysis, are becoming more efficient and less expensive. Furthermore, hydrogen has different uses: applications, mobility, industrial decarbonization, and energy storage. We have to spread information about hydrogen regarding what it can do and its applications to all the sectors that can benefit from it. Mobility, refining, industrial processes or petrochemicals could all benefit from it. The challenge is for everyone to know that green hydrogen has extremely competitive advantages. There are about three colors of hydrogen. It does not mean that they are different hydrogens, because in the end, the atom is the same; however, depending on its energetic strength and production process, it is assigned a color. For example, gray hydrogen comes from methane, and that gray hydrogen costs between USD1.5 and USD2 per kilogram. After the process of refining gray hydrogen, blue hydrogen is produced. This reforming process does have carbon capture. Therefore, it is less polluting and produces less CO2 and emissions; however, it is still polluting because it comes from metal. And finally, there is green hydrogen, which is what we are mainly driving. It is better in terms of decarbonization, combatting climate change, and energy transition. Still, Mexico is not producing any green hydrogen yet.

When will production start in Mexico?

Mexico will start producing it by the end of 2022, but on a small scale. It will be distributed to the private sector, concretely to private companies that will install small electrolyzers to produce green smoke and replace natural gas in their industrial processes. They will install electrolyzers with solar panels on the roof of their plants. In this way, they will produce green hydrogen and, with that, replace fossil fuels. Green hydrogen costs between USD5 and 7, significantly more expensive than the gray one. This is a significant differential. However, the response from the private sector has been positive. We founded an association in February 2021, and in just one year, we already have 50 members. It is a natural step toward hydrogen because everyone is interested in decarbonization. Mexico has great potential. For example, Tamaulipas has little solar power, but it has ports and a land border. So, that area is where the first source of hydrogen in Mexico can be constituted. I hope that by the end of 2022, there will be a company producing it the following year on a large scale. The association is making progress, doing away with all the industrial issues, costs, and mobility.

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