Decarbonising the Yucatan region of Mexico

In January this year, academics from the UK and Mexico met at the Cinvestav Unidad Mérida university to explore and develop strategies for the Yucatan Peninsula as well as develop links between academics in the two countries.

Photo credit: Mayra N. Ordoñez Ochoa

Photo credit: Mayra N. Ordoñez Ochoa

Organised by the Professor Darren Robinson from the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture along with colleagues from the University of Nottingham and Cinvestav Unidad Mérida, the workshops were funded by the British Council as part of their Newton Fund Researcher Links workshop programme.

Mexico is energetically independent, but more than 80% of its energy supply is derived from fossil fuels. National laws and regulations in support of alternative forms of energy are very recent, with a fledgling nuclear energy industry and modest investments in wind (amidst land and social conflicts) and more recently in biofuels. A new law on energy transitions seeks to accelerate the transition to clean energy technologies.

But open questions remain: which business models will be most promising in stimulating energy transitions? What are the social consequences? To what extent can behaviour reduce demand and fuel poverty be alleviated? With regards to the Yucatan Peninsula an additional challenge relates to the increased diffusion of clean and renewable energy technologies without impacting on fragile ecosystems and tourism.

One participant was Dominic O’Connor, Research Associate. He said: “I gave a short presentation on the work that the Building Energy group do at the University of Sheffield which looked at the range of different projects we’re involved with. The aim of the workshop was to build links between UK and Mexican academics so my talk was to showcase what we do in the hope that it would align with some of the academics we met.

“From that we went about identifying the needs of the Yucatan area in terms of decarbonisation, looking at policy, engineering and social solutions. I think a number of project proposals are hoped to be developed from this.”