Central America: Opportunity in Renewable Energy

New models of renewable energy developments led by SMEs are providing electricity to low-income rural households.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Elperiodico.com.gt reports that "The lack of oil reserves and rising prices has meant that the energy issue has gained a lot of interest in recent years in Central America. Installed capacity increased from 4129 MW in 1990, to 11,865 MW to in 2011, while net generation increased from 14,175 GWh to 42,115 GWh. "

"... However, despite this significant progress, traditional biomass fuel, ie wood, still represents between 33 and 50 percent of energy consumption. This is one of the most graphic indicators of fuel and social poverty. "

"... New developments in renewable energy (mainly solar photovoltaic) led by small and medium enterprises have come into existence. These businesses are providing solutions for low-income rural households (two of these companies alone benefit 260,000 people in Nicaragua and Guatemala) through partnerships. Some are private initiatives while others are supported by local NGOs and multilateral banks. "

"... These innovative business models ... provide important lessons to the public and private sectors. In addition, these initiatives introduce a different dynamic to a field that has traditionally worked for the state."

More on this topic

Central America Not Leveraging Geothermal Energy

September 2017

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the geothermal power generation potential of the region is 20 times higher than the current installed capacity.

The main reason behind the low utilization of geothermal energy is the high cost incurred in the initial stages of exploration and evaluation of available resources. However, once that stage is over, it becomes a more economical source of electricity than others, such as fossil fuels, according to studies by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

“Dry” Geothermal Energy Exploitation

January 2011

GTherm, the owner of the patent, is negotiating with Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) to develop a 12 MW pilot project.

Within ICE's strategy to develop clean electricity sources, since October 2010 it is negotiating a pilot project to generate electricity by harnessing geothermal energy in the subsoil, a rich resource in Costa Rica.

Untapped Geothermal Potential

January 2011

Costa Rica spent in 2010 $ 164 million in oil to generate electricity, while it wastes 1,000 MW of geothermal potential.

According to current legal framework and planning, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad expects to generate 4,018 megawatts by the year 2016, of which only 35 MW will come from geothermal sources; it represents only 2% of the total.

Geothermal Energy in Central America

September 2010

While costly to build, Geothermal Energy plants could represent a reliable source of clean energy in the long term.

With its many active volcanoes, the region has a unique opportunity to exploit the heat accumulated under the earth in order to generate energy.

For example, Guatemala is aiming to source 60% of its energy needs through geothermal plants by 2022.

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