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The importance of water resources in the context of Mexico’s power system is obvious on analyzing the latest available statistics. Hydroelectric power stations generated 24.4 TWH (terawatt-hours, 1012 watts) in 1981, 36 percent of the overall power (almost 68 TWH) consumed that year. The history of power generation development in Mexico and of the growing importance of hydroelectricity to its present level affords a clearer understanding of the long-range planning to the year 2000 in this field.

Figure 1 shows the yearly average hydroelectric generation related to total electricity generation in Mexico and to installed capacity. Generation variations in time are due to variations in water availability, which are unpredictable. However, the hydroelectric generation and installed potential may vary, its participation in total electricity generation decreased beginning in 1970. Thus, 53 percent of the nationwide installed power in 1970 was hydroelectric and provided 57 percent of the total. In 1980, percentages were 41 and 27, respectively, that being a low-runoff year, and rose to 36 percent of the overall power generation in 1981 when precipitation was heavy.

Hydroelectric generation developed unequally to the electricity sector’s overall growth, owing to the priority given at different times to the construction of thermoelectric plants. Consideration of the economic, social, operational, and conservation criteria for hydroelectric versus thermoelectric power generation shows that development of hydroelectric power is desirable.

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