Geothermal Energy in Central America

The region’s geothermal power generation plants exploit only 4% of its estimated potential of 13,000 MW.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Located in a region of considerable volcanic activity, Central America has excellent features for the generation of energy using heat from the earth, however it only generates 506 MW and remains dependent on expensive imported fossil fuels.

El Salvador leads the region, with an installed capacity of 204 MW, representing 24% of its electricity production, a figure that the country aims to increase to 40% by 2020. La Geo, the company that develops plants in the country, plans two new plants in Ahuachapán and Berlin, with three potential new areas also being explored.

According to recent studies, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala have greater potential generation than El Salvador. Costa Rica has a current installed capacity of 166MW, while Nicaragua and Guatemala have 87MW and 52MW respectively.

According to the article on, to promote the development of this renewable energy source it is necessary for governments to consider assisting in the exploration process, which can be very expensive (up to $40 million), with no guarantee of return of any kind. Implemented effectively, schemes to share and mitigate these risks could give investors the security required to invest in the sector.

"If every country in Central America formalized its objectives through policies and systems that support the sector, the region could become a global leader in geothermal development, leading to the creation of a more stable power supply and a reduction in dependence on hydrocarbons," concludes

More on this topic

Costa Rica: Geothermal Energy and National Parks

September 2016

In Costa Rica current installed capacity is 195 MW, in a country whose generation potential identified in studies by the state run power company amounts to 875 MW.

Opportunities for growth in geothermal power generation in the country are reflected in these 680 MW which are available and as yet untapped, according to the 2014-2035 Expansion Plan for Electricity Generation by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE).

Funding Offered for Geothermal Projects

May 2015

An announcement has been made that the German government will have a credit line of $113 million available to fund geothermal projects in Central America.

The announcement was made ​​by the German ambassador to Nicaragua, Karl-Otto König, who said in an article on that "...Central America is a region with 'considerable potential' for generating thermal energy which comes from the ground or from volcanoes. "

Geothermal Energy in Nicaragua

March 2012

The volcanic mountain range of los Maribios could potentially generate more than 1,500 megawatts for the country.

Studies by the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) estimate that the volcanoes of the Los Maribios range, along the Pacific area, could give the country a generation potential of more than the 1,500 megawatts in 12 areas or geothermal fields, a capability that could liberate Nicaragua from dependence on oil as a source of electricity.

“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.