(Adds details on Laguna Verde plant, context)
By Adriana Barrera
MEXICO CITY, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Mexico is studying the possibility of adding two new reactors to the country’s only nuclear power plant and could decide next year whether to seek permits to build them, a top energy ministry official said.
Cesar Hernandez, deputy energy minister for electricity, told Reuters that studies under review by officials show “the potential to add a pair of reactors” to Mexico’s Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in eastern Veracruz state.
“It is a decision that is being considered,” he said late on Wednesday. “Our planning shows it is efficient for the country.”
Hernandez did not say how much the reactors would cost to build, or whether or not private investment could be used to help finance the potential projects. New nuclear power plants typically involve multi-billion dollar investments.
The Laguna Verde plant, which was built in 1976 but did not begin operating until 1990, is run by state-owned national electricity company CFE.
Mexico has for years explored ways to increase its nuclear capacity but has not taken concrete steps to build additional reactors, instead turning increasingly to electricity generation fueled by natural gas.
Earlier this year, an upgrade at the existing pair of reactors at the Laguna Verde plant increased the generating capacity by about 16 percent, to 1,620 megawatts (MW).
Last year, nuclear energy accounted for about 2.5 percent of Mexico’s power generation. (Reporting by Adriana Barrera; Writing by Alexandra Alper)