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Turning on a sustainable light

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The efforts that Central American countries have made to develop renewable energy resources are increasingly successful, according to the 2010 annual report (available only in spanish) on the region’s electricity sector, published last week by the Economic Commission for Latin America.

Oil is now used only to provide one third of all the electricity in the region.

The new capacity is almost entirely hydroelectric. Considerable additional capacity exists in areas, which include biomass, solar and wind, Geothermal sources, a highly efficient form of power generation, have great potential in Central America.

An issue for the region is the slow growth of overall power production.

Subtracting the obsolete power plants, which have been de-commissioned, Central America in recent years has added only around 500 megawatts of new generation.

Currently, more than nine electricity consumers in every 10 in the region are clients of five groups, two of them from the private sector.

Spain’s Gas Natural Fenosa is number one in the region, with operations in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama. AES, based in the United States, operates only in El Salvador.

Colombia’s Empresas Públicas de Medellín (a market-orientated public company; link in Spanish only) operates in Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama.

Both of the other big two groups are state owned.

One is the financially troubled Honduran utility Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica (Spanish only).

The other is Costa Rica’s Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (Spanish only).