Mexican courts have reportedly delivered a blow to the government’s campaign to restrict renewable energy, with local outlets describing the granting of temporary injunctions.

According to La Jornada and other publications, a Mexico City court has now provisionally suspended the individual application of the reform passed by power market operator CENACE in late April, granting the request of at least two renewable developers.

The measures – which mandated curbs on renewables including the freezing of grid tests and a potential licensing ban in congested zones – had been challenged by green energy players including FV Mexsolar XI, according to La Jornada.

In supporting their claims, the Mexico City court reportedly argued that CENACE’s plan risked hampering free competition at the consumer’s expense. The judge’s decision called on both sides to make their case at court proceedings scheduled on Friday this week (22 May 2020).

The move marks a setback for the Mexican government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has maintained that measures are necessary to underpin grid stability as the country works to contain COVID-19 cases. Renewables pose, CENACE has said, risks for the “continuity of power supply”.

Below are the highlights of Mexico’s renewable controversy of the past few weeks, as documented by PV Tech:

Industry promises legal action as Mexico blocks renewables on ‘stability’ grounds

5 May 2020: The stage is now set for yet another legal dispute between Mexico’s government and the renewables sector, with the former acting to freeze project connections in a supposed bid to underpin system stability in the COVID-19 era.

In recent days, power market operator CENACE moved to block nationwide the tests required to switch on renewable plants. The measure kicked in on 3 May, following Mexico’s transition into a new lockdown phase to contain the recent escalation of virus cases.

Mexican business council the CCE hit out at the changes, describing them as “lacking a solid technical rationale and a fully justified legal foundation”. It added: “The private sector will take the necessary legal measures to preserve the level field and Mexicans’ right to a healthy environment.”

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Mexico’s renewable clampdown puts Neoen’s ultra-competitive PV plant in limbo

13 May 2020: Operators are starting to feel the impacts of Mexico’s recent decision to block renewable project connections, a measure that has paralysed a major solar project weeks after coming online.

In recent days, Neoen revealed it is set to lose millions every month after its 375MWp El Llano solar PV installation was put on hold by power market operator CENACE, which moved earlier in May to block the compulsory grid tests for all renewable plants nationwide.

Neoen’s statement came as green energy associations including Asolmex (solar) and Amdee (wind) offered figures charting the impacts nationwide. CENACE’s new policies put a 5GW-plus, US$6.42 billion, 30,000-job pipeline of solar and wind assets at risk, they claimed.

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EU, Canada step in as outcry mounts against Mexico’s block to renewables

19 May 2020: The controversy over Mexico’s recent clampdown on the green energy industry has flared anew in the past few days, with major EU economies and Canada acting to voice their concerns.

In a joint letter dated 15 May, ambassadors from Germany, France, Spain, Italy and 15 other EU member states asked to meet Energy minister Rocío Nahle to discuss their concerns over the renewable restrictions, citing complaints they had received from European firms.

Canada struck a similar tone in a separate missive to Nahle, sent on the same date. The measures put at risk the US$450 million of green energy investment Canadian firms such as Canadian Solar have pledged in the country, ambassador Graeme C. Clark said as he requested a phone call with the minister.  

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PV Tech has set up a dedicated tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at jrojo@solarmedia.co.uk or lstoker@solarmedia.co.uk.

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