61% of electricity in Central America generated using renewables in 2009

This is the finding of a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), an agency of the United Nations responsible for promoting economic and social development in the region.

The work, entitled "Central America: Statistics of the electricity sub-sector, 2009" was conducted in collaboration with official institutions of the region’s countries linked to the energy sector.

Institutions of Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica provided data which were subsequently processed by ECLAC. As well as highlighting that 61% of the electricity generated in Central America came from renewable sources in 2009, the report found that demand had risen significantly in Panama (+9.8%); registered a significant increase in Nicaragua (+3.1%) and somewhat smaller rise in Guatemala (+1% ); and actually fallen in El Salvador (-4.3%), Honduras (-3.2%) and Costa Rica (-1.9%).

With respect to fossil fuels, in 2009 37.3% of electricity was generated using petroleum and 1.8% carbon. While the remaining 60.9% was generated using renewable sources comprising hydro, 47.2%; geothermal, 8%; sugar cane bagasse, 4.7%; and wind, 1.1%.

By country, renewables held the following shares in the generation mix: Costa Rica (95.1%), El Salvador (56.8%), Panama (56.6%), Guatemala (53.2%), Honduras (45.5% ) and Nicaragua (29.9%).

Generation using sugar cane bagasse grew by 123% compared to 2008, accounting for 214.2 GWh of capacity. There was also a comparative increase in wind capacity of 119.98% (237.8 GWh), which was primarily due to the commissioning of wind farms in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The volumes of hydroelectric output fell by 5.9%, mainly due to the lower quality and quantity of rainfall, especially in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, while geothermal output also experienced a slight decline.

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