Mexico prepares for the cleantech revolution

Volvo’s electric bus on display alongside electric cars at ABB’s Automation and Power World customer event in Mexico city (running from June 22-24)

Mexico has signaled its intent, both to clean up the air in its capital and to become one of the global economy’s next cleantech superstars.

The cleantech leadership we’ve seen in countries like Germany, Denmark, China, India and Australia has been an inspiration. Now Mexico has signaled its intention to join the ranks of the cleantech leaders.

When I was growing up, Mexico City was infamous for its air pollution. My parents had travelled through Mexico before I was born, and they loved the country, but they also had tales of the extreme pollution in the Mexico City. In 1992, the United Nations named Mexico City the “most polluted city on the planet.” It hasn’t been in the spotlight as much for this problem in recent years, but the local government did have to activate its air quality emergency protocol in March for the first time in 14 years, which meant that car use was severely restricted, outdoor exercise was discouraged, and public transportation was made free across the city.

But the smog conceals an uplifting story that is currently being written behind the scenes: Mexico is laying the building blocks for its own cleantech revolution, which includes plans to dramatically cut direct emissions from transport, while also making a relatively quick switch to clean, zero-emission electricity.

The country has ambitious plans for an energy transition, aiming to increase the share of electricity from clean sources to 35 percent by 2024, 40 percent by 2035, and 50 percent by 2050. Mexico City also has big plans for improving air quality. It intends to join the C40 Cities Clean Bus Declaration of Intent, and is working to cut car use, remove old and polluting vehicles from the streets, and make a decisive move toward fully electric buses.

Electric bus pilot programs have been deemed overwhelming successful in city after city all around the world. Chinese company BYD most often provides the electric buses for trial programs around the world, and it is the global leader in electric bus sales. Mexico City transit company “Servicios de Transportes Eléctricos” was one of the agencies that trialed some of BYD’s electric buses and came out of the pilot program happy with the results. It followed up with a request to purchase 100 of the buses, but is still waiting for funding from the city. It’s important to note that, although a 100 electric buses might not seem like a lot for a city of more than 20 million people, it is an important stepping stone to a transition. The signatories to the C40 Cities Clean Bus Declaration of Intent are committed to have 42,649 low- and zero-emissions buses in their fleets by 2020, “which is over 25 percent of the 164,629 total buses for all signatory cities in 2020.”

Aside from BYD, Volvo Buses has become a leading manufacturer in the early electric bus market. ABB works with both companies, and it has demonstrated itself as a clear EV charging pioneer with flash charging solutions that allow an electric bus to charge in just 15 seconds!

Electric cars are one of the hottest trends in transportation, and the industry is moving into Mexico in multiple ways. For one, an electric version of the Audi Q5 is going to be manufactured in Mexico. Additionally, Tesla recently brought service and charging to Mexico. Overall, with plans to clean up the air, manufacturers know that the time is ripe for strong electric car and bus sales.

One of the prerequisites for an EV market is the charging network and, with ABB’s leadership in single-standard and multi-standard fast chargers, the way is clear for the roll out of charging stations for electric cars in the coming years, both in urban locations and on motorways. For public transport, ABB offers fast chargers of various types for fully electric as well as hybrid buses, including the 15-second flash-charger mentioned above.

The switch to electric transport is intended to be part of a wider energy transition to cleaner power generation. Here, ABB can play a role in the construction of transmission and distribution infrastructure to minimize losses in transmission and transport renewable energy over large distances to the urban centers where it is needed. The company’s microgrid technology is also ideal for bringing power to communities without reliable grid connections.

Mexico has signaled its intent, both to clean up the air in its capital and to become one of the global economy’s next cleantech superstars. The building blocks are in place. Now the construction has to begin.

Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Zachary Shahan, editor of CleanTechnica and Planetsave.

Categories and Tags
About the author

Zachary Shahan

I'm the director of the CleanTechnica and Planetsave news sites. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. I'm also the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity.
Comment on this article