Central America: Further expansion of renewable energies in 2014

According to figures of the Economic Commission of the United Nations for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) the share of renewable energies has increased from an already high level. The share of installed capacity of biogas, geothermal, solar, wind, hydro power and cogeneration has risen from 58 to 59,1%. In 2009, their share amounted to only 53%. The generation from renewable power plants increased in the same period of time from 60,9% to 63,6%. These figures reflect the ongoing trend towards renewable energies in Central America.

Apart from the traditionally used hydro power, the main driver of this development is wind energy which has expanded its share of the regional energy generation from 1,1% to 4,4%. In general, in 2014 the most important energy providers were hydro power (45,6%), thermal (mainly fossil fuel) power plants (36,4%), geothermal energy (8,2%), cogeneration (5,3%) and wind power (4,4%).

Public energy plans and project announcements show that the expansion of wind power which until now has taken place primarily in Costa Rica and Nicaragua will spread to all Central American countries.

While solar power was not of any importance in the energy mix of 2014, the figures of the upcoming years will reflect the rapid expansion of solar projects, primarily driven by large ground-mounted solar power plants. In 2014 and 2015, Honduras will see the most significant installations of solar power. A generous feed-in tariff approved in 2013 triggered a 600 MW pipeline of large solar power projects. The largest one is a 146 MW project which was inaugurated this year in Nacaome. But also El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama have numerous projects which have started operating in 2015 or which are currently under construction.