The Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is a company in charge of providing electricity to Mexico's citizens. The company started the Cerro Prieto project, a geothermal plant located in Mexicali, Baja California.
The Cerro Prieto geothermal field allows the underground steam to generate electricity in a clean and renewable way since it does not require additional fuels, such as petrol or coal. The plant has a capacity to produce 720 MW and is the second-largest geothermal power plant in the world.
The CFE has made a positive impact in Mexican society with the Cerro Prieto project because environmental and social actions are carried out through this project, contributing to the development of the communities around the field.
The Sustainable Development Goals met in this project are Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Climate Action, and Life on Land.
Valeria Islas Luna
Ana Dayale Hernandez
Universidad de Monterrey
Through Cerro Prieto, various productive and improvement projects are carried out for the society and the environment, which involve:
Parcel Drainage System: CFE designed and built a surface drainage system to solve excess salt problems in the dry areas surrounding the geothermal plant. The drainage system contributes to the sowing of 229 acres around the Cerro Prieto geothermal field.
Plant Nursery: It is a new operating and sustainable model in which plants are grown from available raw material. The project is carried out to sow plants with compost so that later on, the communities near Cerro Prieto can produce their own gardens. The staff produces compost using the condensed water produced from the geothermal steam to plant different seeds and trees.
Date Palms and Vine Plantations: CFE designed, built, and installed a plantation system with Date palm cultivation inside the geothermal field, where 115 nopales and 106 Date palms were planted. For the irrigation system of Date palms and nopales, condensed water from the geothermal plant is used.
Cerro Prieto in Mexicali, Baja California
The CFE company aims to contribute to Mexico's development and provide energy service with sufficiency, competitiveness, and sustainability. In addition, the company seeks to potentiate the growth of the industry, generate jobs, and contribute to the national economy's growth.
To achieve sustainability in its actions, CFE was inspired to offer a different type of energy to the country. Therefore, after realizing the great geothermal potential that the Cerro Prieto area has because of the materials in the soil of that area, the opportunity was used to produce energy from the steam generated by the earth, to take advantage of the natural resources.
CFE is committed to preserving the environment while supplying energy, so the Cerro Prieto geothermal plant was created in 1973, which produces half of the energy of the state of Baja California. The geothermal plant produces 1% of the energy of Mexico, which contributes significantly to the country's development, and generating energy using the water and heat inside the ground helps preserve the environment.
The innovative projects carried out in Cerro Prieto are sustainable because the condensed water produced from the steam generated by the geothermal plant is used for everything: the parcel drainage system, the generation of compost, the plant nursery, and the reforestation inside the geothermal field with the Date palms.
In creating the project, a high investment had to be made since the systems necessary for the construction of geothermal plants are very expensive. However, the project has high long-term benefits: economically, it reduces the costs of the company and the costs of the citizens' energy; and environmentally, it reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases and makes very good use of natural resources.
With the parcel drainage system, the landowners near it are benefited, since the water produced from the geothermal field helps the plants and their products to grow in a very healthy way; for example, the cotton that is produced after the implantation of the system has a better quality compared to before. Because of it, the owners' production has doubled since then.
There are more than 5,500 planted plants in the plant nursery, and the main seeds are mosque, tabachin, and ebony. The growth of these plants is improved because of the condensed water from the geothermal field. Finally, by planting Date palms and vines, the community has a greater economic livelihood because the plantations that citizens within areas near Cerro Prieto previously had, were not as affordable as the Date palm or vine.
In the generation of electrical energy, approximately 70% of the expenses are fuel, which is a fluctuating variable since the price of fuels such as oil or mineral products is subject to change. Besides, the prices of different types of fuels are different from each other, which means that the cost of producing electrical energy could differ when using different types of fuels. However, in the Cerro Prieto geothermal field, a natural source of energy is used to produce electricity, which helps eliminate many expenses since an additional source of fuel is no longer required. In addition to that, because the cost of removing underground steam does not change significantly over time, the company could be benefited because not only the expenses of the company decreases when producing electrical energy, but also the company's costs are not subjected to changes over time, which increases the stability of the company. Likewise, with the low variation in costs, the company can anticipate the money necessary to pay its cost, which brings monetary benefits to CFE.
The people who work in the Cerro Prieto project are loyal to the company because, as those workers live near the area, they get benefits with the reduction of energy cost and having a better lifestyle with the actions performed by Cerro Prieto, which also means they also get a job at CFE. With that, the employees become grateful to the company, fostering an environment of respect and harmony. Therefore, the worker’s loyalty benefits the company from not spending money training or hiring new employees.
The CFE company has been utilizing geothermal energy for 47 years. Thanks to technological advances, the Cerro Prieto plant has become more efficient and competitive in producing renewable and clean energy. Also, with the high variation in fossil fuel costs and the scarcity of the same fuels, geothermal energy is a good alternative not to be subject to economic variations and be more environmentally friendly. Therefore, the project has benefited the profitability of the company through the use of renewable energy.
The projects that are carried out confirm that collaboration between the CFE company and the people living near the Cerro Prieto area is beneficial because the collaboration allows both parties, the company, and the people, to be more productive by helping each other. Furthermore, the high collaboration between local, state, and federal authorities has contributed to having a more transcendental impact.
For the social impact, Cerro Prieto represents an opportunity for development and employment for the region, because with the different activities carried out in the project, CFE has offered work to citizens who live in the communities near the geothermal field, benefiting the economy of the employe: first, with the parcel drainage system, the owners are benefited in their sowing and their production; and second, with the plant nursery, citizens around Cerro Prieto can consume vegetables and other products planted more cheaply; and last, but not least, with the planted Date palms, the citizens come to have a more stable economic livelihood since the lands of Cerro Prieto, with the help of the condensed water from the geothermal field, make the Date palms and plants more productive and profitable.
For the environmental impact, the use of the internal heat of the planet is a renewable resource, so it is a very friendly method for the environment, and greenhouse gas emissions are very low; so, 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide ceased to be emitted in the country with the Cerro Prieto geothermal field in 2015. In addition, with this project, there is no carbon footprint, and the planet's natural resources are not wasted; instead, the subsoil materials are used efficiently, without polluting the planet and helping the ecosystem.
Eduardo Felipe Ling Saénz y Alejandra Sánchez, Eduardo: Resident of Previous Activities and Alejandra: Supervisor of Social Management
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Ciudad de México, Estado de México, MX
Business Website: https://www.cfe.mx/Pages/Index.aspx
Year Founded: 1937
Number of Employees: 10000+
The Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is the company in charge of commercializing electricity to Mexico's citizens, which carries out business activities for the country's economic, social, and environmental development. In addition, it is the largest company in the electricity industry in Latin America.