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Mexico: renewable natural gas and hydrogen lead the transition to a new generation of fuels

While the United States and Europe plan an ecosystem that facilitates the diffusion of new fuels (renewable natural gas and hydrogen), how does Mexico stand concerning this energy revolution dedicated to sustainability?

Unlike the states mentioned above, Mexico’s federal environmental authorities have not drafted a specific program to guide the transition. The Mexican Clean Fuels Act focuses primarily on the production of biodiesel.
Shareholders, on the other hand, are asking exporting companies to give rise to more sustainable production methods and products to protect their competitiveness in the markets.

The potential of renewable natural gas for the Mexican economy

From a green perspective, companies must promote the transition from natural gas to renewable natural gas (RNG), thanks to the compatibility between the two resources and the possibility of exploiting the same production lines, without the need for structural changes.
In particular, the transport sector will greatly benefit from the use of this resource instead of diesel.
Renewable natural gas is a term used to describe biogas that has been upgraded for use in place of fossil natural gas. The biogas used to produce RNG comes from a variety of sources: municipal solid waste landfills, digesters at water resource recovery facilities, livestock farms, food production facilities, and organic waste management operations.

This overview reveals the potential of Mexico. On the national territory, there are numerous landfills that can produce biogas in a stable way. And let’s not forget the vast sector of meat production. In fact, in Mexico there are several farms with tens of thousands of animals that produce manure useful for the renewable natural gas stock.

To encourage the diffusion of RNG, it will now be necessary to develop a structured system of virtual pipelines, i.e. an articulated infrastructure capable of connecting industrial facilities, institutions, and municipalities to the natural gas pipeline through a network of pipeline terminals, trucks, and on-site decompression stations. 

The production of green hydrogen and the regulatory limits

The future of green hydrogen in Mexico is not dissimilar to that of RNG. Abundant solar availability and access to water favor the production of this energy vector; however, government incentives aimed at supporting its growth are lacking.

For the development of this sector, the focus is now on salt water electrolysis applications, which promise to eliminate the very expensive desalination processes. If this innovation materializes, favoring a significant drop in the price of hydrogen, the Mexican coasts will become coveted sites for the green transition.

Hydrogen can also be produced by RNG steam reforming, which is the same process used in the oil and gas industry but from a clean source and with clean energy (solar, wind, or renewable natural gas gensets) driving the production line. This innovation promises to be much more cost-effective than the current water hydrolysis.

The growth of these two sectors will promote tens of thousands of jobs and huge revenues for companies willing to take up the energy transition’s challenge. However, there is a lack of unambiguous local legislation, capable of answering the doubts of companies and favoring the obtaining of licenses for the operational needs of the various projects.


Read also: Mexico: the chiaroscuro of the agricultural sector in 2023

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