by Will Davis
Mexico’s Laguna Verde nuclear plant sits at a beautiful location in Veracruz. This plant has operated successfully for three decades. Photo courtesy Morrison-Knudsen / United Engineers & Constructors.
Nuclear power never really did take off in Mexico; although the populous nation seriously considered nuclear energy for a variety of purposes it ended up with just a single commercial plant. It is beginning to look like that might change, sooner or later.
This week, the coordinator for thermoelectric generation at Mexico’s nationalized utility CFE (Comision Federal de Electricidad or, the Federal Electricity Commission) Hector Lopez went on record as saying that Mexico should construct another two further nuclear units at its Laguna Verde nuclear station and that it should also (find a site for and) build two more units somewhere on the Pacific Coast, it was reported by Mexico News Daily.
Lopez told reporters that the operating cost of the plants would be low enough to make their initial investment, perhaps some $7 billion each (for a 1400 MWe unit) worthwhile. He remarked that while combined cycle plants cost less to build by a considerable margin they can be up to four times as expensive to run in terms of dollars per megawatt-hour generated. Further, Lopez said that adding new nuclear capacity would cut the nation’s heavy dependence on natural gas as a generating fuel and diversify its supply of electricity.
Although Mexico flirted with other plants and locations, it only ever completed one commercial nuclear plant – Laguna Verde, at Veracruz on the east coast. This two unit BWR plant was ordered in 1969; construction began in 1973 and, as with many plants of that era, delays began to occur. Eventually the original architect-engineer, Burns & Roe, was replaced by EBASCO (a firm known for taking over stumbling projects and
by Will Davis