Nicaragua: a renewable energy paradise

Nicaragua is what many experts call a paradise of renewable energies: extensive geothermic resources – resulting from its large volcanic chain and seismic activity–, with excellent exposure to the wind and sun and a variety of water sources.

In terms of energy output, the country has the capacity to generate 5,800 megawatts (MW) annually from clean sources. Currently, however, just over 5% of its renewable potential has been developed.

Paradoxically, Nicaragua was until recently dependent on oil-based products, which were expensive and far from environmentally friendly. This was in addition to limited power lines and one of the highest electricity rates in the region at an average rate of US$ 0.24 per kilowatt/hour.

In 2006, this scenario led the Nicaraguan government to address the need to change its electrical grid. With the government’s openness toward private investment, 58% of the country’s energy is currently produced by renewable sources whereas the remaining 42% comes from oil-based bunker fuel, according to estimates of the Nicaraguan Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM).

In Central America, Nicaragua is second only to Costa Rica in terms of the share- 21%- of renewable, non-hydraulic energy in the region. The energy output of its geothermic resources is considered the best in Central America, with estimated potential reserves of 1,500 MW (in addition to the country’s energy system capacity, which is 1,300 MW). However, just 154 MW have been installed by the country’s power plants, Polaris and Momotombo.

Nicaragua is also focusing on another renewable energy source: wind. Huge white windmills erected on wind farms can be seen along many of the country’s roads.

On the banks of Lake Cocibolca, in Rivas Department, is the country’s third wind plant, Eolo. This month, thanks to a US$ 110 million investment, 22 wind turbines will officially begin operation, providing some 44MW of energy to the national network. It is estimated that Eolo will not require any fossil fuel supply.

Source | World Bank

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