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CANACINTRA

MEXICO - Energy & Mining

Rafael Valdez

Representative of CFE, National Chamber of the Transformation Industry (CANACINTRA)

Bio

Rafael Valdez has a professional career of 25 years in the electrical energy sector, particularly in protection and automation in electrical systems, reactive power compensation, harmonic filtering, electric vehicle charging, smart grids, and grid code. He has held managerial positions in well-known companies in the electrical sector and currently serves as the president of the lithium, hydrogen, and energy storage commission at CANACINTRA. Additionally, he is responsible for the commercial direction of CIRCUTOR in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

"We are responsible for promoting the use of energy storage, either through lithium or hydrogen technology to reduce the saturation of Mexico’s electricity network."
Among its key responsibilities, CANACINTRA focuses on promoting energy storage technologies to alleviate Mexico’s electricity network saturation and enhancing overall energy efficiency.
Can you elaborate further on your role at CANACINTRA?

We are responsible for promoting the use of energy storage, either through lithium or hydrogen technology to reduce the saturation of Mexico’s electricity network. Through this use of energy storage, we also reduce the energy network peaks at certain hours, as storage can automatically connect through batteries, reducing the country’s overall electricity consumption. The national electricity matrix is currently in a delicate situation, and we are promoting the storage of energy not only to reduce cost, but also to create mini networks that offers users a more stable and high-quality service. Meanwhile, we are entering the world of storage through Circutor, which is geared toward energy efficiency. We are designing micro networks that support energy storage that is generated by hydrogen, stored, and then, along with solar panels, connected to the national grid. Such solutions are important as technology today requires a high investment to ensure an adequate energy supply for the future. If we analyze a plant that will transform materials into a marketable product, we would require storage times of about 1-2 hours at the most. In the case of Mexico, CFE has various projects, mainly solar that involve energy storage. I believe that in the near future, when we have efficient batteries, we will offer a much longer storage time; however, the solution is not only to rely on energy storage, but to combine renewables with existing technologies. We have various energy generation plants in the country. Among those we have hydro-electrics, fuels, combined cycles that can burn gas, and a small percentage of renewables. We will start to make a plan for enhancing renewables and combining them with existing plants, which we see as the optimum solution. CFE usually closes plants that have been open for about 20 years, which is the normal lifespan for such plants; however, in the last few years, the government has decided not to close these plants. Many of these generate carbon emissions, which are not only inefficient but also contaminate the environment. Therefore, once we have better technology, combining these will lead us to the best solution.

What are you doing to create greater awareness of this topic in Mexico among the private and public sector?

The commission that I represent is integrated with an energy commission where, among other things, we cover the need of CANACINTRA’s affiliates for new technologies. We are looking into energy storage and how it could result in better rates; we are looking for a return on investment in five to 10 years. We also want to see how to prompt affiliates to invest in such projects and become an important part of the planning stage to create more jobs and become more profitable.

What are your goals for the coming year given the forthcoming election?

Currently, we are heavily promoting the use of technology. One of the main goals is for the affiliates of CANACINTRA to achieve “peak-shaving,” which yields a minimum of 2MW of storage. However, we still lack an exact measure of this with which to set goals, because it is a very new technology. I consider it important to emphasize that this technology related to energy storage pertains to intelligent energy use. This involves taking steps toward a culture of intelligent and efficient energy consumption. It is no longer simply about companies having a constant supply of electricity, but about having a better quality of energy. In addition, even if we manage to resolve all issues surrounding energy efficiency and connectivity, there are certain regulatory issues we need to face, such as the current limit of being able to install a mere 500kw in a company. CANACINTRA strives to work with the relevant bodies to ease these regulatory issues and make it far more attractive for companies to take on the new technologies to advance toward a more efficient energy system.

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