What role does CESCA play within Mexico's energy transition?
CESCA has been working on projects that focus on sustainable energy for the future. We collaborate on projects scattered throughout the country, several of which are in regions where natural resources such as wind and sunlight are abundant. The energy reform in Mexico is advancing sufficiently, and it's more than a necessary step forward for the country. Our job includes the evaluation of the environmental aspects of projects, such as the migratory routes of birds and bats that can be affected by wind energy projects in a region. It is extremely important that our clients trust us. Our qualified staff is an invaluable asset to achieve our goals, and specialists in a wide array of sciences participate in our studies. We always strive to innovate and treat each evaluation and study as unique.
How will environmental law in Mexico change in the coming years?
Mexico has an adequate legal framework; however, there are a few details that the country could focus on to improve the system. The Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (SEMARNAT) requires projects to consider each step it needs as separate mini projects and not as a whole, which can complicate the evaluation.
What can operators do to avoid blockades in their projects?
All projects have to respect basic human rights, such as the right to information; communities have the right to know how projects will impact their areas. In the past, operators used to have zero communication with communities, as projects were mostly carried out on private properties. With the new energy reform, it is now mandatory to consider the people living in areas near projects, so we help our clients to comply with these new requirements. Another important topic is security. For instance, Coahuila and Tamaulipas are two states with high levels of insecurity, but also a high potential for renewable energy.
What are the biggest challenges your clients face when it comes to obtaining environmental permits?
It is definitely having enough information. Companies need to have enough and reliable information to obtain project authorization from the authorities. If the latter do not have the necessary technical, legal, and administrative information, it will be hard for companies to obtain a permit. They cannot do anything on the site without the corresponding authorization. Sometimes projects require many permits for matters such as environmental impact, land use changes within forests, state permits, use of water, waste handling, and so on. We do not believe in a middle-point between feasibility and the minimization of environmental impacts within projects. Rather, it is in the best interest of our clients to fully comply and implement all environmental benchmarks, without damaging third parties.
How important is the use of technology in increasing the sustainability of a project?
We use technology to improve our ability for data management. CESCA has a highly qualified team that constantly trains people on these topics. Data is another important tool to ensure the sustainability of a project. For example, we can use forest data to inform the authorities on the impact certain project has on biodiversity. Other data we use includes algorithms for soil erosion calculations or to estimate the loss of underground water. We have been using these formulas for the last 10 years, and they are constantly being improved. Besides, it is no longer enough to have preventive and mitigation measures alone, but compensatory ones as well.
How do you seek to consolidate your presence in Mexico in the next five years?
We are working on strengthening the services we offer by continuing to increase our knowledge on the use of data and taking advantage of the information available for our regional studies. We also aim to work together with universities. We are constantly working on ways to acquire more data in order to offer better and more complete studies for our clients.