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Cheap, clean electricity

Monday, November 9, 2015


 

In a listless world economy, Central America is doing better than many of its neighbors, partly because of an increased ability to produce electricity efficiently, in many cases from sources that either renewable or at least preferable to burning bunker.

The latest source of efficient production is on the horizon, with a proposed investment by Finland-based Wartsila in a Salvadoran plant, which will generate 380 megawatts, fueled by natural gas, to be imported in liquefied form.

Energía del Pacífico, a Wartsila partner, would bring Colombian LNG to the La Unión port.

El Salvador is also interested in the extension of a planned pipeline, which would bring gas from Mexico to Guatemala and Honduras, according to plans announced jointly by the three countries.

In several developed markets, natural gas costs a third less than bunker, while emitting less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

No Central American country currently uses natural gas to generate electricity.
Costa Rica for its part last April set a world record of 75 days using only renewable resources.
Unusually heavy rains meant higher-than-usual hydro output.
But even in normal conditions, Costa Rica generates close to 90% of its electricity without burning fossil fuels.

Honduras for its part is the region’s leader in solar power, including the inauguration last April in San Pedro Sula of a 3 Megawatt array of panels, the largest in Latin America to power the operations of a private company.

Meanwhile, both Costa Rica and Nicaragua are adding geothermal capacity.