The leaders of North America meet in Washington (Credit: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

On energy matters, international cooperation is of utter importance especially when it comes to the neighboring countries of the North American continent. Energy cooperation throughout the world and in North America for that matter has the potential to reduce the cost of business and enhance economic competitiveness. This is true in the case of both the implementation of an interconnected grid or the development of joint projects.

For example, in 2012, Mexico will welcome the construction of its first-ever 50 MW solar power project which is a result of cross-border collaboration from Mexico’s Grupo Musa and U.S.-based energy developer Synergy Technologies. The solar power plant will be constructed in the state of Baja California near Tecate. It is planned as a 450 MW total capacity project but will be constructed in 50 MW tranches; the construction of the first tranche is scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2012. The power plant, which will use SolFocus Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) equipment, will be owned and operated by SolMex Energy S.A. de C.V ., the new company formed by Grupo Musa and Synergy Technologies for the production of clean solar energy in Mexico.

“The project is in direct alignment with the Mexico and U.S. bilateral clean energy agenda. The countries share a common goal of achieving strong economic growth and energy security while addressing climate change and increasing the reliability of energy infrastructure,” said David Muñoz, Director General of the Baja California State Commission of Energy.

In addition, at the start of April, U.S. President Barack Obama, Canada’s President Stephen Harper and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón met in Washington D.C. and pledged to develop continental energy across national borders by increasing North American energy trade. The three leaders of North America talked about expanding their cooperation in order to generate clean energy jobs and decrease the effects of climate change in a unified manner.

According to Environment News Services, during a joint news conference in Washington, President Obama said, “Between us, we represent nearly half-a-billion citizens, from Nunavut in the Canadian north to Chiapas in southern Mexico. In between, the diversity of our peoples and cultures is extraordinary. But wherever they live, they wake up every day with similar hopes – to provide for their families, to be safe in their communities, to give their children a better life. And in each of our countries, the daily lives of our citizens are shaped profoundly by what happens in the other two. And that’s why we’re here.”

In terms of energy exchange, Mexico and the United States have always had a close relationship with regard to imports and exports of oil and gas. However, it was not until a few years ago with the construction of the Energía Costa Azul LNG terminal in Baja California, that Mexico began exporting so much LNG to the state of California. In 2010 alone, the U.S. imported 22,503 million cubic feet of LNG from Mexico through the point of entry in Ogilby, California.

This situation, however, has provoked an interesting debate because by importing LNG from foreign countries like Mexico, California is gaining easy energy access but at the same time contradicting its plans towards expanding its renewable energy sector. When it comes to financing energy, LNG competes directly with and undermines renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in California. In order to meet the government’s ambitious goals of getting 33% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020, all additional electric generation built between now and 2020 must come from renewable sources.

Just today the Mexican House of Representatives passed a climate law which envisions 50% less carbon by 2050, 30% less dirty carbon emissions by 2020 and 35% of the country’s electricity to be generated from clean sources by 2024. When approved by the Mexican Senate, this law will be the only second law of its kind in the world along with the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Act. So, as Mexico continues on the path towards a cleaner and brighter future, international cooperation from its neighbouring countries can facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

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