May 242014
 

This guest post, by C.G. Machlan of the fledgling Green City Development Organization, looks at the feasibility and practicality of establishing sustainable, accessible cities in Mexico.

If it is feasible and practical to build wind farms in Mexico then it must also be feasible and practical to build sustainable, accessible Green Cities. Here’s why!

Mexico has sufficient wind and solar resources as indicated by these two maps, of wind resource and solar radiation respectively:

Mexico-Wind-Map-2

Source: http://www.altestore.com/howto/images/article/Mexico-Wind-Map.jpg

energia-solar-mexico

Source: http://www.evwind.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/energia-solar-mexico.jpg

Wind Farms

Mexico has approximately 31 wind farms occupying over 11,000 hectares in 8 states, generating more than 1,300 megawatts (MW) of power for the national grid system. Additional wind farms are in the planning and development stages. These wind farms are needed, and are an important component of efforts to increase Mexico’s electricity-generating capacity. Wind farms are ecologically clean, produce needed electricity for the national grid, reduce Mexico’s carbon footprint, and create some long term jobs.

Green Cities versus Wind Farms

While wind farms contribute to Mexico’s electricity-generating capacity they do little to help the long term employment situation in Mexico. On the other hand, Green Cities can help boost employment. The Green City Feasibility Study looked at 10 Mexican states and identified potential locations having sufficient wind, solar and moisture resources to support a Green City. When built, each city would be able to house an estimated population of 250,000 to 300,000, and could create more than 100,000 new jobs across all sectors. Each city would be totally sustainable as regards electricity, by incorporating vertical and horizontal wind turbines together with solar panels in both residential and non-residential areas.

The Green City Electrical Analysis suggests that a Green City will require 54.6 to 63.3 megawatts daily for an estimated 54,000 houses, and between 288 and 661 MW for the non-residential areas at the projected mean and maximum population levels. This is a similar number of megawatts to the 250 MW produced by the Eurus Wind farm located in Juchitan de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, or the 632 MW, oil fired, Puerto Libertad power plant in Pitiquito, Sonora, but has the very important additional advantage of helping to create more than 100,000 new jobs in each city.

Green City Water Sustainability

Both electricity and water are essential for any city, Green Cities included, to grow and prosper. If Green Cities are located in areas where there is good wind speed/density and sufficient solar radiation to produce the electrical energy required, then the next question becomes, “Is there enough water available?”

Annual precipitation in Mexico (Fig .4.3 of Geo-Mexico)

Annual precipitation in Mexico (Fig .4.3 of Geo-Mexico, the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico) All rights reserved.

The normal rainfall season in many areas of Mexico is from May through September, so Green Cities would need to rely on aquifers as a year-round water source. Mexico has 653 identified aquifers, more than 100 of which are said to be overexploited.

Map of overexploited aquifers and areas of salinization

Overexploited aquifers and areas of salinization (Fig 6-7 of Geo-Mexico; all rights reserved)

Fortunately, Green Cities can be totally water sustainable by:

  • Recycling all wastewater to a quality suitable for potable use.
  • Incorporating “Air to Water” methods to obtain replacement water thus reducing aquifer usage.
  • Designing runoff systems to collect and clean rainfall (stormwater) when it is available.
  • Recharging aquifers, using excess water obtained from stormwater runoff.

The Green City Water Analysis estimates that a typical Green City will consume 71,563 cubic meters of water daily. Of this amount, 48,904 cubic meters will become wastewater requiring treatment. Assuming that 10% of the wastewater is lost during processing, approximately 24,925 cubic meters of replacement water will be needed daily, which must come from an aquifer, rainwater and/or “Air to Water” methods.

Calculations indicate each city could be fully water sustainable if rainwater was efficiently harvested. Assuming 10 cities were built in the various locations identified in the feasibility study (examined in an upcoming post) as much as 128 million cubic meters of water could be available for aquifer recharging each year.

Accessibility for All Individuals

If new cities are to be built it seems logical to make them completely accessible to all individuals so everyone has equal opportunity to live, learn and work. This, too, is possible with Green Cities. All houses and non-residential buildings are designed to be totally accessible, making the cities not only unique in Mexico, but in the world!

In Closing

It is feasible, socially acceptable, and economically practical to build sustainable, accessible Green Cities in Mexico! Green Cities are especially important for Mexico. Like most other emerging and developing countries, Mexico lacks sufficient electricity-generating capacity to promote the industrial growth needed for its population. Building more wind farms can help existing cities (via the national grid) but Green Cities can provide even more long term benefits to the people of Mexico, including as many as 1 million new jobs from the construction of 10 new cities.

The technology is available. Now it requires planning, refinement, cost analysis and implementation. Is Mexico ready? We believe the answer is YES!

[Text submitted by C.G. Machlan, The Green City Development Organization (GCID.org). Mr. Machlan can be contacted via bmac...@hotmail.com]

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May 222014
 

As part of its Clean Fuels Policy, Pemex is modernizing its refineries in Ciudad Madero, Minatitlán, Salamanca, Salina Cruz and Tula.The total investment involved is 3.4 billion dollars. The plan, which will take 4 years to complete, includes the construction of new plants in several of the locations

Pemex installations in Mexico. (Adapted from Fig 15.5 of Geo-Mexico). All rights reserved.

Pemex installations in Mexico. (Adapted from Fig 15.5 of Geo-Mexico). All rights reserved.

The objective is to produce Ultra Low Sulfur diesel fuel (UBA) in the five refineries, in compliance with Mexican standards. The new technology will reduce vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides by between 50 and 80%.

Since last September, 42,500 barrels/day of ultra low sulfur gasoline is already being produced at the Pemex refinery in Cadereyta, Nuevo León.

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May 192014
 

Both the state and the city of Querétaro are growing rapidly in importance. The state has grown faster than any other over the past decade and has attracted significant foreign direct investments, especially in the aeronautical sector, but also other technology firms attracted by the state’s central location, proximity to Mexico City, easy access to other major cities, such as Guadalajara and Monterrey, excellent transport links to the northern border and both coasts, its highly educated workforce and enviable living standards.

The state’s success has not gone unrecognized. For example, Joseph Parilla and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Studies Program in “Finding the ‘New’ Mexico in Querétaro” describe the state as “ground zero for the country’s economic revolution, achieving average annual GDP growth of 5.5% over the last decade, highest among Mexico’s 31 states. It is home to major multinational corporations like GE and Samsung, a burgeoning middle class, new golf courses, and what will soon be Latin America’s second-largest shopping mall, all within a stone’s throw of an immaculately preserved colonial center (a UNESCO World Heritage site).”

This recent PBS video segment looks at how economic reforms have enabled boomtowns such as Querétaro to spur economic growth in Mexico.

Two proposed projects in Querétaro deserve further comment.

The first is the announcement earlier this year that Arkansas State University was joining with private investors in Querétaro to break ground on the first U.S. university residential branch campus in Mexico. The campus is slated to be built in the municipality of Colón, some distance from the state capital. Just how significant this project is remains to be seen.

The second project, which holds much greater significance, is the renewed interest in constructing a high speed rail link capable of moving as many as 20,000 passengers/day connecting Querétaro City with Mexico City. This idea has been around for at least 20 years, but may finally be approaching lift off.

At a later stage, this line could easily be extended into the Bajío Region, to the industrial cities of León and Guanajuato, and also possibly westwards to Guadalajara. Tapatíos (the residents of Guadalajara) have dreamed of a high speed rail link to Mexico City for the past 30 years, following the demise at that time of the convenient and popular overnight train service linking the two cities.

The line’s proposed route is from the Buenavista station in Mexico City to Huehuetoca, and then mainly following the route of highway 57, the main Mexico City-Querétaro highway, to Querétaro.

The project would generate up to 9,000 direct jobs during construction and take about four years to complete at an estimated cost of $3.3 billion.

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May 172014
 

Mexico, Argentina, Spain and another twenty countries from around the world celebrate today (17 May) as “World Internet Day”.  This seems like the ideal time to review just how “connected” (or not) Mexico’s cybernauts are.

Household survey figures from INEGI, the National Statistics Institute, show 11.1 million homes in Mexico (35.8% of the total) have a computer, but that 14% of these households do not have internet access. About 46 million Mexicans aged six years or older access the internet. Three quarters of all users are under the age of 35.

Digital divide map

Internet traffic flows Credit: Stephen Eick, Bell Labs / Visual Insights, <http://www.visualinsights.com>)

64% of users utilize the internet for information, 42% as a means of communication, 36% for entertainment, 35% for education and 35.1% for social networking. (These categories are not mutually exclusive.) 43.6% of all users access internet daily, 45.5% weekly and 7.1% less often. In terms of education, 20.2% of all users have completed primary school only, 24.5% junior high and 28.6% senior high, while 23% already have a degree and 2% have postgraduate qualifications.

Data from the Mexican Internet Association (AMIPCI) shows that Mexicans’ acceptance of e-commerce is rising very rapidly. E-commerce was worth around $9.3 billion in 2013, an increase of 41% from a year earlier when the comparable figure was $6.6 billion. Indeed, APIPCI data show that e-commerce has risen at double digit rates for several years. There is still considerable room for growth since the INEGI survey shows that only about 6% of Mexico’s cybernauts currently use the internet to make purchases or pay bills.

Related posts:

May 152014
 

KidZania is one of Mexico’s more unusual multinational corporations. It is a Mexican-owned chain of family entertainment centers, aimed at children aged 4 to 14. Each Kidzania location is a child-sized replica of a real city, complete with buildings, paved streets, shops, vehicles and pedestrians. All buildings are scaled to be two-thirds their real-life size.

Children enter the city (usually via an airport-like setting) and then engage in role-play jobs in such branded activities as bottling Coca-Cola, serving at a McDonald’s restaurant or working in a Crest-sponsored dentist’s office. Others undertake the roles of firemen, doctors, police officers, journalists and shopkeepers, etc. “Workers” earn kidZos (local currency) to spend on entertainment, at the gift shop, or for premium KidZania activities. Each KidZania offers about 100 role-playing activities in 60 or so distinct establishments.

Between them, KidZania centers attract more than 4 million young visitors a year. This Youtube promotional video – KidZania Global Overview 2013 – provides a good introduction.

Alternatively, the 5-minute video below, from PBS’s American Milestones, describes how KidZania works, with particular emphasis on its claimed educational value:

The Mexican entrepreneur behind KidZania is CEO Xavier López Ancona. The first KidZania (later renamed La Ciudad de los Niños – The City of the Children) opened in September 1999 in Santa Fe Shopping Mall in Mexico City. Two more locations have since opened in Mexico: Monterrey, in northern Mexico, and Cuiculco, in the southern part of the Federal District.

The first Kidzania outside Mexico opened as a franchise in Tokyo, Japan, in 2006. Since then Kidzania has opened centers in:

  • Jakarta, Indonesia (2007)
  • Koshien, Japan (2009)
  • Lisbon, Portugal (2009)
  • Dubai (2010)
  • Seoul, South Korea (2010)
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2012)
  • Santiago, Chile (2012)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (2013)
  • Mumbai, India (2013)
  • Kuwait (2013)
  • Cairo, Egypt (2013)

The chain plans to continue expanding, with plans to establish three new centers in 2014 (Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and São Paulo, Brazil) and six more centers in 2015 (Singapore; Moscow, Russia; Manila, Philippines; Doha, Qatar; London, U.K.; and Chicago, USA).

Each park represents an initial investment of between 20 and 30 million dollars. Sponsors of KidZania activities vary by location and include (or have included) American Airlines, Coca Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Kellogg’s, Walmart, Danone, Mitsubishi, Honda, HSBC, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé and Sony.

KidZania has won several major awards, including one as the World’s Top Family Entertainment Center by IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions).

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May 112014
 

This page lists some of the many maps on Geo-Mexico.com, as of 10 May 2014.

Want to use a map? All these maps [except those marked  (*)] are original Geo-Mexico.com maps. The use of any of Geo-Mexico’s maps for educational purposes is fine, provided credit is given to  Geo-Mexico.com. For commercial use (including business presentations, newsletters, magazines, books, TV), please contact us with details of your project via the Contact Us form.

This page is updated every few months to reflect new additions to our site.

Categories:

Physical geography

Hazards:

Population

Economy

Regional and city maps

Crime:

History:

Other:

Mapping exercises:

 Posted by at 11:25 am  Tagged with:
May 092014
 

We have repeatedly questioned the long-term wisdom of large-scale tourist developments along Mexico’s coastline. See, for example:

The good news, in June 2012, was that it looked as if the conflict at Cabo Pulmo, in Baja California Sur, had been resolved in favor of protecting the environment:

Unfortunately, land developers won’t take “No” for an answer. Immediately after its “cancellation”, the Cabo Cortés project was renamed Los Pericúes and relaunched, with few if any differences from the original version. Two years on, the project has been taken over by a new consortium of developers and renamed “Cabo Dorado”. Some changes have been made along the way, and Cabo Dorado no longer includes a marina or desalination plant, and its plans appear to have a lower building density.

There are still some legitimate concerns about the long-term impact of such a project in this area, so kudos to Carolina Herrera (Latin America Advocate of the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington DC) for her impassioned plea calling for Cabo Pulmo to be protected from the latest incarnation of this long-proposed tourist megaproject.

The project is located immediately north of the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park, which over its 19 year lifespan has proven to be hugely successful in conservation terms (The extraordinary ecological recovery of Mexico’s Cabo Pulmo Marine Park), while providing local people with the opportunity to offer a variety of alternative forms of low impact tourism. The site of the Cabo Dorado project site is home to 26 “at risk” species, including endemic plants and endangered sea turtles.

Cabo Dorado is a 3.6-bilion-dollar joint investment by La Rivera Desarrollos BCS, a joint venture of Glorious Earth Group (USA) and Beijing Sansong International Trade Group (China), together with China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

The project is for the construction of a new “ecotourist city” on 3770 hectares (9317 acres) of land. Slightly more than two-thirds of this area will be retained as a “conservation reserve”.

The master plan for the developed third includes:

  • 6,141 homes  (443 ha)
  • 9 hotels with 4,080 hotel rooms (721 ha) [the 22,503 number on the infographic below is an error]
  • 2 golf courses and practice ground (162 ha)
  • Services, infrastructure, maintenance (334 ha)
  • 1 landing strip
  • 1 14-km aqueduct
  • Shops, convention center, etc
Infographic from www.cabopulmovivo.org

Infographic from www.cabopulmovivo.org   Click to enlarge

According to the developers. Cabo Dorado “will be a fully integrated development, a first of its kind in the country, as it combines educational, recreational activities, scientific research, health promotional centers and a strong commitment to preserve the environment.” To this end, the project includes “an interpretation center, a technological and biological research center for studies related to the Sea of Cortes and the Desert of Baja California Sur, as well as a cultural exchange center, an educational institute and a student campus. In addition, there will be centers dedicated to the promotion of trade and investments, a high performance sports center, 9 world-class hotels and residences for temporary visitors and full time residents.”

Cabo Dorado will extract up to 4.8 million cubic meters of water a year from Santiago aquifer, roughly equivalent to the water needs of a city of 82,000 people) and will generate 711,900 kilograms of waste per day.

On the positive side, the project will create 18,000 direct and indirect jobs and bring around 900 million dollars/year into this area. It does not involve a marina or pumping wastewater into the sea which should prevent direct adverse ecological impact on marine life. The masterplan includes a “support town” for workers, which means that the local municipality does not need to build additional infrastructure to support the project.

The Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) has called for a formal public meeting and consultation to ensure people are adequately informed about the latest plans and the potential social and environmental impacts.

Further reading:

For an exceptionally informative series of papers (in Spanish) on all aspects of tourism and sustainability in Cabo Pulmo, see Tourism and sustainability in Cabo Pulmo, published in 2008 (large pdf file).

Related posts:

May 072014
 

Three cities in Mexico – Mexico City Metropolitan Area, Monterrey Metropolitan Area and Querétaro - are included on the 2013 list of “The World’s Most Competitive Cities. A Global Investor’s Perspective on True City Competitiveness”, a report issued by Site Selection magazine in cooperation with IBM Global Business Services.

It is the first time the city of Querétaro (2010 population: 805,000) has been included on the list; Mexico City and Monterrey are old-timers on the list.

The 100 cities studied all have a minimum population of 1 million inhabitants in the local labor catchment area and attracted at least 25 foreign investment projects in 2009-2011. The study aims to rank the competitiveness of cities “to attract investment and international projects in various sectors”, and to identify those locations with the best combined “cost-quality” for particular types of investment project.

The report presents rankings and findings for five different types of operations:

  • International headquarters, coordinating corporate operations in a global region
  • Financial services center of competence
  • Software development center
  • R&D center for life sciences, combined with pilot production
  • Shared services center, providing support for corporate operations in finance, customer support, human resources or IT
Criteria used to rank world's 100 most competitive cities

Criteria used to rank world’s 100 most competitive cities

Rankings are based on 30 factors or parameters (see chart above).

The most competitive cities in the world were London, U.K. (score of 78.0), Singapore (78.5), New York City (77.4), Amsterdam (76.3) and Hong Kong (75.9).

Mexico City Metropolitan Area was ranked as number 57, with a score of 55.8. Monterrey Metropolitan Area ranked number 72 (48.2) and Querétaro city ranked number 90 (43.6).

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May 042014
 

The holiday of Cinco de Mayo (5 May) commemorates the Battle of Puebla, fought on May 5, 1862. The battle (against the French) marks Mexico’s only major military success since its independence from Spain in 1821. Today, in a curious example of cultural adaptation, the resulting holiday is actually celebrated more widely in the USA than in Mexico!

Cinco de Mayo: Google image search results

Cinco de Mayo: Google image search results

For an account of the history behind the Cinco de Mayo, and for an explanation of why the holiday is now celebrated more in the USA than in Mexico:

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with a parade in the City of Puebla each year, but, in another strange twist of geography,  the longest-running annual re-enactment takes place in Mexico City:

In 2013, construction began of a 2-km cable car linking the main site of the Battle of Puebla (on a hill overlooking the city) with the city’s historic downtown district, but construction was halted following protests due to the demolition of a protected, historic building in the city center as part of the rush to complete the project before the opening of Mexico’s 2013 Tourism Tianguis, the largest tourism trade fair in Latin America.

Want to read more?

MexConnect has several informative articles relating to Cinco de Mayo, including:

May 032014
 

Mexicans are the world’s largest consumers of bottled water, both in individual small bottles (1.5 liters or less) and in garrafones (large, 20-liter bottles).

The main reason is a lack of confidence in the purity of public water supplies, resulting in part from perceived inefficiencies in how city water systems are managed and maintained. These concerns may be valid in some parts of Mexico, but are certainly not the case in all areas. Other factors resulting in a high acceptance of bottled water are the convenience, Mexico’s warm climate, and the vigorous publicity and advertising campaigns carried out by bottled water companies. It does not help that consumer groups repeatedly express concerns even about the quality of water in garrafones, claiming that some companies apparently take insufficient precautions to prevent its contamination.

For its part, the National Water Commission repeatedly claims that the problem of water quality is not due to the main distribution lines in Mexico, but to problems at a local level, in the final stages of the network between supply and consumers.

garrafon

Typical 20-liter garrafon

According to Euromonitor International, bottled water consumption in Mexico in 2013 averaged 186.7 liters/person, well ahead of Italy (175.1 liters/person), Nigeria (163.1), Turkey (147.7) and Spain (143.2). [Note that an earlier estimate in 2010 by Beverage Marketing Corporation put per person consumption of bottled water in Mexico at 234 liters a year, with equivalent figures for Italy, Spain and the USA of 191 liters, 119 liters and 110 liters respectively; the difference from 2010 to 2013 is almost certainly due to methodological differences].

Mexico consumes about 13% of all bottled water sold in the world! The only countries consuming more bottled water (in total volume) than Mexico were the much more populous countries of the USA, China and Nigeria.

Bottling water is a highly profitable business. The cost of 1,000 liters from the tap is 25 pesos (about 2 dollars); the same water, sold in bottles, is worth between 6000 and 8500 pesos (450 to 650 dollars).

The bottled water market in Mexico has grown from 6.5 billion dollars in 2009 to 10.4 billion in 2013, according to Euromonitor.  It is dominated by three foreign firms: Danone (France), Coca-Cola (USA) and PepsiCo (USA). Between them, they supply 82% of the market, according to a Euromonitor report, with the three leading brands being Bonafont (Danone) which accounts for 38% of the market, followed by Ciel (Coca-Cola) which has a 25% share and Epura (PepsiCo) 19%.

The cost of bottled water in an average Mexican household is considerable. For instance, assuming an average consumption of 15.55 liters/month/person, and that all water is bought in 1-liter bottles (which cost about 8 pesos each), then the monthly cost per household would be close to 500 pesos (38 dollars).

An industry dominated by four multinationals

Inside the Bottle: An Exposé of the Bottled Water Industry, a book by Canadian activist Tony Clark, provides a vivid and disturbing portrayal of how, worldwide, four big companies – Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Danone – dominate the bottled water industry. As summarized by infinitewaterinc.com, the book examines several key issues of public concern about the operations of these companies, including how they:

  • pay little or nothing for the water they take from rural springs or public systems;
  • turn ‘water’ into ‘water’ through elaborate treatment processes;
  • produce a product that is not necessarily safer then, nor as regulated as, tap water;
  • package it in plastic bottles made of environmentally destructive toxic chemicals;
  • market it to an unsuspecting public as ‘pure, healthy, safe drinking water’; and
  • sell it at prices hundreds, even thousands of times more costly than ordinary tap water.

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