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Several private renewable energy projects in the works

Power generated by three privately-owned hydroelectric dams will be sold to the National Electric Company

Monday, August 14, 2000 Online Edition 33

Engineers for the Babilonia project and the Bureau of Energy examine the site where the dam is to be built.


TEGUCIGALPA — Currently, there is only one privately-owned renewable energy source in Honduras, the Central Hydroelectric Zacapa, according to the Bureau of Energy. All others, such as the El Cajon and Nacaome hydroelectric dams, are owned by the government.

However, this situation could change soon as the backers of several privately-owned renewable energy projects have applied for permission at the Bureau of Energy to begin construction. Last week, representatives of three private hydroelectric energy projects, El Cangrejal, Babilonia and Lago de Yojoa, signed contracts with the National Electric Company (ENEE) to sell their energy to the ENEE, according to the Bureau of Energy. These projects hope to begin operating next year. As of this Friday, they had not yet begun construction.

The dam on the Esperanza River in Intibuca will be repaired and reopened for hydro-electric energy.

Doris Hernandez, the deputy director of the Bureau of Energy, said the purpose of using renewable energy sources in Honduras is "to diminish, eradicate, and eliminate thermal plants." In 1999, 54.2 percent of electric energy in Honduras was provided by thermal power, according to statistics published by the Bureau of Energy. Thermal generated power is costly for Honduras because it uses combustible materials for fuel.

Utila, for example, is a place frequented by tourists, but with an acute energy problem. All travelers who have gone to Utila have experienced this. At night there is rationing of energy, and during the day there are constant brown outs. Hernandez said the Tennessee Valley Infrastructure Group (TVIG) has developed an Aeolian Project through which wind power will be used to provide Utila with energy and thus eliminate the diesel plants.

She said that in two weeks TVIG will present its study to the Bureau of Energy, and building could begin as early as next year. Hernandez added that they cannot begin construction until after an environmental impact study has been made and reviewed by the Department of Environmental Control (DECA) and the Center for the Study and Control of Contaminants (CESCO).

According to information published by the Bureau of Energy, other forms of renewable energy that are used in Honduras or being studied are solar energy and biomass fuels.

Hernandez said Cressida Corporation has a project to produce energy from the waste of the African palm used to make oil. She added that the Three Valleys sugar producer, which obtained financing on July 10, will generate energy not only for itself but will sell some to the ENEE. This will be done with the waste pulp of sugar cane.

Some solar villages, such as the Jose Cecilio del Valle in Choluteca created last year, have been successful; yet Project South Lempira, in which batteries for home appliances, walkie talkie's and lights are solar powered, has not been very successful. This is due to the short duration of the solar powered energy, according to Hernandez. In order to maintain renewable energy in this area, a mini-hydroelectric source will be installed, said Leonardo Jose Matute, analyst of energy projects.

Meanwhile, the Honduran Association of Coffee Producers (AHPROCAFE) wants to finance an evaluation of areas surrounding coffee plantations to consider the possibility of installing renewable energy-generating plants, said Hernandez. They are currently working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (SERNA).

According to AHPROCAFE, renewable energy will increase coffee production, as most coffee plantations do not have access to energy of any sort. Statistics published by the Natural Resources and Environmental Ministry state that only 62.4 percent of Honduran territory has access to electric energy.

Renewable energy on a large and small scale will begin to be implemented throughout Honduras, owned by both the private sector and the government. Hernandez said this is the only way ENEE will eventually be able to provide the rest of Honduras with electrical energy. Most projects will begin to produce and sell their energy in the next two years, which is a considerable advantage to consumers who pay exorbitant prices for energy to ENEE.


Principal energy sources Source Electricity generation (MW) %
Hydroelectric 365.5 45.8
Thermal 457.1 54.2
Hydroelectric power Plant Capacity (MW) %
Francisco Morazán* 255.0 66.0
Cañaveral 29.0 7.5
Río Lindo 80.0 20.7
El Níspero 22.5 5.8
Santa María del Real 0.0 0.0
Total 386.5  
* More popularly known as El Cajón.
Source: Estadísticas Eléctricas, Secretaría de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente

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