Nuclear Energy in Mexico

Tito Gomez-Franco
March 25, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017

Laguna Verde

Fig. 1: Laguna Verde (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The National Commission for Nuclear Energy was established in 1956 marking the beginning of Mexican interest in nuclear technology. The responsibilities of this government agency were to study and plan for the use of nuclear energy in Mexico. The actual act of handling the nuclear fuel and production of energy was left to the Federal Electricity Commission. [1] Both of these government agencies began to search for possible locations for nuclear power plants in 1966. Construction of an actual power plant did not begin until 1976. The plant was chosen to be located in Laguna Verde and chosen to be a General Electric boiling-water reactor. [1] Construction was finished in 1990 and on July 29th commercial operation of the first reactor on the site began. A second reactor unit was also built in the same location and was turned on for commercial use on April 10th 1995. Both reactors received major upgrades in 2007 which were completed in 2013 and increased output by 20% and increased the life span of the reactors to 40 years. [1] The Laguna Verde (see Fig. 1) site is still the only nuclear power plant in Mexico, it provides a staggering 4% of the country's electricity. A figure that has not been forgotten when it comes to energy policy in the government. [1]

The Future of Nuclear Power in Mexico

Fig. 2: Map of Latin America (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

There is a lot of support in the Mexican government for the expansion of nuclear energy. Though any momentum that nuclear energy has gained in the government has been continually stopped by the price drop in other forms of energy such as natural gas. [1] Thus many plans were squashed, from building 10 reactors by 2028 to only building reactors for the desalination of water many plans have met a brick wall in the government. Either way many politicians are pushing for the construction of another reactor in Laguna Verde or else where in the state of Veracruz. [1] The reality of the situation is that nuclear energy is stagnant in Mexico and lacks a real future in the country.


Mexico has always had a policy of peaceful use of nuclear technology. [2] It is explicitly written in their current constitution that nuclear energy will only be used for peaceful purposes. Mexico was also the depository for the Tlatelolco Treaty of 1967 which was signed by all 33 Latin America and Caribbean countries (see Fig. 2) which states that all parties will not peruse the construction of nuclear weapons. [3]This treaty was a result of the Cuban Missile crisis, due to Cold War tensions Cuba did not sign the treaty until 1995 once relations with other foreign powers had cooled down. [2] With such barriers in place in Latin America it insures that nuclear energy be used for the betterment of society in Latin countries. [3]

© Tito Gomez-Franco. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] P. J. Coldwell et al., "Prospectiva del Sector Eléctrico 2015-2029", SENER, Secretaría de Energía, Mexico (2015).

[2] W. Epstein, "The Making of the Treaty of Tlatelolco," J. Hist. Int. Law 3, 153 (2001).

[3] C. Ta, "The Treaty of Tlateloco", Physics 241, Stanford University, Winter 2016.