December 4, 2018

Build a Bridge, Not a Wall: Us Companies Have Renewable Energy Opportunities in Mexico

You might think the people of Texas are thrilled to hear the current president threaten to shut down the US government on December 7th if Congress doesn’t give him $5 billion to build a wall along the border with Mexico, where everyone is a dangerous criminal, a rapist, or a murderer. Since Texas has a border with Mexico that stretches 1,254 miles and has 28 international bridges and other crossings, surely it favors such a wall, doesn’t it?

Not necessarily. It turns out many people in Texas see the people on the other side of the border as neighbors, not mortal enemies intent on slaughtering them in their sleep. According to an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News written by Carlos Torres-Verdin, now is the perfect time to leverage some of the experience Texas has acquired in renewable energy — especially wind power — by sharing it with Mexico. There’s money to be made, and Mexico has recently elected a new president and a new mayor of Mexico City who are strong renewable energy advocates. Torres-Verdin is a professor of petroleum and geosystems engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

Mexico has established a renewable energy goal of 35% nationally within 5 years and 50% by 2050. It established a Market for Clean Energy Certificates program that became fully operational this year. According to Torres-Verdin, private companies bid for market share. Whichever offers the most competitive rate is awarded a Clean Energy Certificate to build its system. US companies are welcome to participate.

There’s a lot of work to do to reach the 35% renewable energy goal. In order to get there, Mexico will need to build more wind farm resources in the next 3 to 5 years than Canada did in 20 years. If American companies want to do business in Mexico, they will need to be prepared to hire and train local workers and technicians. Texas also has significant experience with solar energy, technology it could also export to its southern neighbor.

“Entering the Mexican green energy market is not without challenges. Nothing worth doing is ever easy,” writes Torres-Verdin. “However, the conditions have never been more favorable for greater energy-related cooperation, and managed carefully, it could be a win-win situation for both sides — something the U.S. and Mexico desperately need right now.”

The business opportunities are there for the taking. What is lacking is an atmosphere of trust between the parties. Establishing that may be harder than building wind farms and solar power plants, especially with the tweeter in chief hurling insults at the people of Mexico at every opportunity.

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